Israeli lawmaker: US Jewish leaders threatened to stop helping Israel due to insults

Ben Sales

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Knesset member Yair Lapid claimed American Jewish leaders said they would stop advocating for Israel due to government ministers’ insults of Reform and Conservative Jews.

In a Knesset speech Monday, Lapid said American Jewish leaders approached him following the campaign last year against the Iran nuclear agreement, telling him it was the “last time” they would lobby the government on behalf of Israel.

“This is a blow to our strategic alliances because the Jewish communities are the ones that create political power for Israel everywhere,” said Lapid, of the centrist Yesh Atid party. “Last year, again and again, community leaders told me, ‘If this is how you treat us, don’t come asking for help in international institutions or any governments.’”

Since Israel’s governing coalition formed last year — and particularly since the government passed a plan to reform the Western Wall — senior haredi Orthodox politicians have directed insults and epithets at non-Orthodox Jews.

Following protests by haredi politicians of the Western Wall deal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he would examine the complaints and address them. The coalition is also advancing a bill that would ban non-Orthodox conversions at public mikvahs.

Lapid gave his speech while presenting a motion to hold a no-confidence vote due to the insults. He called on Netanyahu to safeguard the Western Wall deal as it is, block the mikvah bill and not to encourage attacks on non-Orthodox Jews. Netanyahu has come out against some of the attacks.

“If they dissolve the Western Wall agreements, if they pass the mikvah law, if they keep standing at this podium and excluding the Reform and Conservative from the Jewish people, we’ll lose the vast majority of the Jewish world,” Lapid said.

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