Millennial Jewish professionals, lay leaders, seek reassurances from Netanyahu on Israeli democracy

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Over a 100 young Jewish professional and lay leaders wrote Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asking him to address concerns about Israeli democracy when he speaks next week at AIPAC.

“We advocate for Israel’s security, oppose the BDS movement and other efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state, and fight anti-Semitic and anti-Israel voices on social media and throughout North America,” said the letter delivered Wednesday to the Israeli embassy. BDS refers to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel.

“We feel compelled to express our concerns and discontent with the policies, actions, and rhetoric of the Israeli government,” the letter said, referring to proposed legislation that would restrict some types of political activism and Netanyahu’s vote deal with a far-right party that has its roots in the racist teachings of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane. “We are also deeply troubled by Israeli government policies that diminish the possibility of a two-state solution and by the growing calls for Israel to annex parts of the West Bank.”

The letter asks Netanyahu to address the issues when he speaks next week at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “We hope you will work to ensure that Israel remains the homeland for all Jews and a state of all its citizens, affirm Israel’s commitment to democratic values and rejection of bigotry, and recognize the significance of the Diaspora community to Israel’s wellbeing and future,” it said.

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Signatories to the letter, organized by the Union for Reform Judaism and the Israel Policy Forum, a group that favors the two-state solution, includes current and recent leaders and staffers from a variety of liberal and centrist groups, including AIPAC, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Hillel International and a number of Jewish Community Relations Councils.