Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh
Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh Reuters

Heads of major Jewish organizations, led by the Jewish Agency for Israel, recently delivered a joint letter to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett which calls on the Israeli government to designate those who suffered antisemitic terrorism outside of the Jewish state as official victims of terror.

The letter urges the prime minister to commemorate these victims in state ceremonies, as they are an “integral part of national memory.”

The organizations’ request follows an initial appeal in this regard made by the Jewish Agency’s Acting Chairman of the Executive and World Zionist Organization Chairman Yaakov Hagoel to the prime minister. Hagoel also conducted meetings on the subject with officials from the Prime Minister’s Office. A joint committee is currently being established to further examine the matter.

The signatories of the new letter include Hagoel as well as Michael Siegal, outgoing Chairman of The Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors; Mark Wilf, outgoing Chair of The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) Board of Trustees and incoming Chairman of The Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors; Steven Lowy AM, Chairman of the World Board of Trustees of Keren Hayesod; Sam Grundwerg, World Chairman of Keren Hayesod; and Eric Fingerhut, President and CEO of JFNA.

“We view this as extremely important due to the sharp rise in the number of antisemitic incidents compared to last year,” they wrote, citing that since the beginning of 2022, there has been a sharp increase of about 30% in antisemitic incidents outside of Israel and that some 200 Jews have been killed in antisemitic attacks around the world since the establishment of the State of Israel.

The authors lamented that on Yom HaZikaron (Israel’s official Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism), when the country comes to a complete stop to commemorate Israeli victims, those who are killed in antisemitic attacks abroad are not acknowledged.

“Ironically, on this day, which strongly symbolizes the unity of the Jewish people, a large part of our people, Diaspora Jewry, seems to have been forgotten,” they wrote.

“Diaspora and Israeli Jews are brothers and part of the same people. Diaspora Jews are targeted by terrorists around the world because of hatred of Jews and Israel,” they argued, providing examples of the deadly shootings at the Hyper Cacher grocery store in Paris and Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue.

They added, “Just as the State of Israel is the state of the Jewish people, and therefore considers itself collectively responsible for the fate of Jews around the world, it must see itself as responsible in this matter as well. This is a blood connection between Israelis and Diaspora Jews.”