They expressed optimism and faith, though also some concern over the range of coalition diversity, that the sole democracy in the Mideast will continue to make strides domestically and abroad.
Jewish News Syndicate
(June 15, 2021 / JNS) Following a vote of confidence in the Knesset on Sunday, leaders from organizations with an interest in Israel from the United States and around the world sent congratulations to the new democratically elected Israeli leaders while bidding farewell to longtime former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel’s new coalition reached a power-sharing agreement after forming a government from a diverse group of parties, including representatives from the left, right and center of Israeli politics, and even an Arab party, as part of the governing coalition for the first time in Israel’s history.
The government is the first to be formed after Israel held four separate elections in the course of the past two years with no conclusive results. The coalition government’s power-sharing arrangement codified Yamina Party leader Naftali Bennett as Israel’s new prime minister for the first two years, after which Yesh Atid Party leader and new Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will serve as prime minister for two years.
Organizations like the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Hadassah and the American Jewish Committee heralded the success of Israel’s democracy and peaceful transfer of power after last month’s conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
“Coming just weeks after thousands of rockets were launched at Israel by Iran-backed Hamas terrorists, the new government’s formation demonstrates the strength and resilience of Israeli democracy, which has flourished through war and peace for more than seven decades,” said a joint statement from Conference chair Dianne Lob, CEO William Daroff and vice chair Malcolm Hoenlein. “We look forward to working with Israel’s new diverse unity government to continue to deepen the bonds between the United States and Israel, counter the growing threat posed by Iran and combat the scourge of anti-Semitism in all its manifestations.”
AIPAC tweeted on Sunday, welcoming the new government and Bennett, saying that the organization looks “forward to further bolstering the bond between the United States and Israel as the two democracies work in close partnership to advance our shared interests and values.”
B’nai B’rith International president Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin co-wrote a letter to Bennett, writing that he can count on the organization’s support on a wide array of issues.
“The challenges and threats Israel faces each day are many, as you assume your new position,” they wrote. “The need for maintaining a strong Israel-Diaspora relationship is now more evident than ever.”
Jonah Cohen, CAMERA’s communications director, said “the democratic nation of Israel is a sharp contrast to the theocracy in the Gaza Strip under Hamas and the autocratic rule in the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas, who is in his 17th year of a four-year term. Media reports should keep these obvious political differences front and center in future coverage.”
“No coalition has ever represented the entire Israeli political spectrum, and neither does the new one,” StandWithUs said in a statement. “However, this attempt at unity across political, ethnic and religious differences is unprecedented. We hope it becomes a positive example not only for Israelis, but for a Middle East where these types of divisions have fueled far too many years of violence, instability and suffering.”
AJC CEO David Harris said “the new Israeli government reflects the country’s diversity and is determined to pursue peace, security and prosperity. AJC looks forward to working with the new coalition, as we have consistently done with every Israeli government since 1948, and we wish the leadership every success.”
Jewish Federations of North America president and CEO Eric Fingerhut said that after meeting the new Israeli leaders during a recent mission to Israel, he was confident that they will work to strengthen Israel and the Jewish people. He was also hopeful that the coalition government would mean stability for Israel.
“We are also particularly pleased to see an Arab party join the ruling coalition, which is not just unprecedented but also symbolizes ever-greater integration of the Arab sector into Israeli shared society,” Fingerhut wrote in a news release. “We are excited to begin working with the new government and wish all these leaders strength and success.”
JFNA’s board chairman Mark Wilf said, “JFNA sends Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and the entire incoming Israeli government a warm embrace as they embark on this new chapter in modern Israeli history. Federations are eager to work closely with the incoming government and look forward to working together to build bridges between Israel and global Jewry.”
Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, which operates two hospitals in Jerusalem, extended its best wishes to the new government, saying that its members in the United States are ready to support it.
“Israel’s leaders will undoubtedly continue to provide for the safety and security of her people, fight anti-Semitism, develop relationships with new allies and deepen the enduring U.S.-Israel relationship,” national president Rhoda Smolow said in a release. “Hadassah members in the United States stand ready to help draw our nations closer together, and to protect and strengthen Israel against threats from near and far.”
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