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JfJfP comments


06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics


23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo


15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014


29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011



Concept of a meaningful Jewish identity in the Diaspora eludes Israelis

The article below by Rabbi Julie Shonfeld is a comment on the ad campaign discussed in
America is no place for a Jew: that’s official
It is followed by data on Jewish populations in Israel and the diaspora

Israelis lost sight of a meaningful Jewish identity in the Diaspora

The recent ad campaign by Israel’s Absorption Ministry shows how Israelis fall short in trying to articulate a respectful way to relate to Diaspora Jews, because they don’t know how to relate to themselves in this way.

By Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Haaretz

The latest storm between American Jews and the Israeli government has passed. Americans bristled that the Israeli Ministry of Absorption would characterize the potential for Jewish life in America as so small that a child would not even know that it was Hanukkah. These flare-ups, triggered by the American Jewish sense that our identities are treated dismissively, seem to be more frequent and more easily instigated.

There is no insult in the ads’ post-script, stating that children of Israeli parents who grow up in America will not be Israeli. That is a fact – they will be American children of Israeli parents.

The question is whether those children will see themselves as Jewish.

These ads present an opportunity for understanding that that should not be missed. If we care about Jewish identity in the world, the Hanukkah ad ought not to make us angry – it ought to make us sad.

Hanukkah is about the enduring strength of Jewish identity in the face of host cultures. We have always been able to retain our traditions and our faith. Is Israeli society, home to half the world’s Jews, unable to foster a Judaism that can survive in the Diaspora?

The Israeli authors of these ads do not even reach for the word “Jewish.” Israeli and Jewish are treated as two distinct concepts. The ads make painfully clear the extent to which the concept of a meaningful Jewish identity in the Diaspora eludes Israelis.

Through the modern day miracle of absorption, millions of Jews found dignity and safety in the state of Israel. Absorption often subsumed Jewish religious identity, which meant a variety of things depending on community of origin, underneath the rubric of Israeli identity.

What happens when you need to unwind that? Can Israelis, not only expats, but those living in Israel, disentangle their Judaism so it is available to them to connect with other Jews and with themselves as Jews? The authors of these ads seem to say no.

Given the state of affairs in religious life in Israel, is this even a reasonable expectation? The Jewish “selves” of Israelis are the constant victims of coercion and harassment from a state-run religious monopoly that impinges on their most precious and private human affairs. Their marriages, their divorces, the burials of their fallen soldiers must be the rabbinate’s way or no way. With no positive associations for Jewish religion, what will lead them to seek it out in America or anywhere else in the world? Outside of Israel, synagogues and religious or quasi-religious institutions are the most common way Jews connect to each other. Without a sense that they can encounter Jewish religion without coercion, where will they go to find a Jewish community when they are outside of Israel?

That is what I saw in the helpless looks on the faces of the Saba and Savta in the ad.

The post script that said: “They will remain Israeli, their children will not” is a trope we in America know well – continuity is personified in Jewish grandchildren. These ads were the Israeli “translation” of the continuity campaign where the “absorption of Jewish identity into Israeli identity” is a different version of the “assimilation of Jewish identity into American identity.” These are really two sides of the same coin, both leave the Jew alienated from her Judaism, as the little granddaughter does not know it is Hanukkah.

Are American Jews insulted and demeaned as some said in response to the ad? Or do we feel that our love for our Israeli brothers and sisters as fellow Jews is unrequited and one-sided? Israelis fall short in trying to articulate a respectful way to relate to Diaspora Jews, because they don’t know how to relate to themselves in this way.

Absorption is the wrong ministry to address this problem. The real questions belong to the Ministry of Education and to tackling the disastrous Ministry of Religious Affairs. It is not American Jews with whom this state of affairs must be reconciled.

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld is the executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly.
By Sergio DellaPergola
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Professor Emeritus, The Shlomo Argov Chair in Israel-Diaspora Relations
The Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry

Population                 % of world core         % diaspora
core Jews                  Jewish population          population
1 Israel * 5,703,700                      42.5
2 United States 5,275,000          39.3                            68.3
3 France                483,500             3.6                                6.3
4 Canada                375,000            2.8                                4.9
5 UK                          292,000           2.2                                3.8
6 Russian Fed         205,000            1.5                                2.7
7 Argentina            182,300             1.4                                2.4
8 Germany              119,000             0.9                                 1.5
9 Australia              107,500             0.8                                  1.4
10 Brazil                      95,600            0.7                                  1.2
11 Ukraine                  71,500             0.5                                  0.9
12 South Africa         70,800            0.5                                   0.9
13 Hungary                48,600            0.4                                  0.6
14 Mexico                     39,400            0.3                                  0.5
15 Belgium                  30,300            0.2                                  0.4
16 Netherlands           30,000           0.2                                  0.4
17 Italy                          28,400           0.2                                  0.4
18 Chile                         20,500            0.2                                  0.3
* Includes Jewish residents in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights.

Changes in Jewish demography [pg 8]
“Concisely stated, a positive balance of Jewish vital events (births and deaths) is seen in Israel and a negative balance in nearly all other countries; a positive migration balance is seen in Israel, the United States, Germany, Canada, Australia, and a few other Western countries, and a negative migration balance in Central and South America, South Africa, Eastern Europe, Muslim countries, and some countries in Western Europe; a positive balance of accessions to Judaism over secessions is seen in Israel, and an often negative, or, in any event, rather uncertain, balance elsewhere.

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