When Israel’s current government was formed this spring after the March Knesset elections, there were a number of clear winners and losers in terms of the country’s political rivals. But one of the big losers from the reshuffling of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s cabinet was the overwhelming majority of American Jews who do not identify with Orthodox Jewry. Since then, a number of incidents have occurred in which government officials have made statements that have further alienated the many Diaspora Jews who bitterly resent the way their denominations are treated as non-Jewish religions rather than equal partners in the Jewish future. To date, Netanyahu, like his predecessors in both Likud and Labor, have tried to mollify American Jews with conciliatory statements. But after the latest such insult, it is clearly time for him to do more. Israelis on the left and the right, secular as well as religious need to come to grips with the fact that attacks on pluralism are more than an annoying public relations problem.
They constitute a strategic problem for the Jewish state that needs to be addressed.