Israel’s new Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevich has said that Israel will offer assistance to diaspora communities badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Ms Yankelevich, who was appointed to the post earlier this month, was speaking at a conference on Tuesday tasked with investigating areas of concern in diaspora communities, including their recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, educational needs, and antisemitism.
She said that Israel had an “unconditional commitment” to the Jewish diaspora and that this was a “core value which we cannot separate from our Israeli and Jewish identity.”
Ms Yankelevich said that Israel stood with Jewish communities suffering during the coronavirus pandemic and was “frowning in sorrow for the loss of loved ones and our traditional anchors of Jewish communities, our synagogues”.
Ms Yankelevich also outlined her vision for the future of Israel-diaspora relations.
In comments reported by The Jerusalem Post, Ms Yankelevich urged the need for “respect” in Israel diaspora ties, saying: “We need to work together in mutual respect and understanding for the good of our Jewish world.”
Ties between the Diaspora Ministry and the Jewish diaspora frayed during the tenure of Ms Yankelevich’s predecessor Tzipi Hotovely.
Ms Hotovely was forced to apologise after she controversially accused American Jews - in an interview designed to defuse tension between Israel and the diaspora - of living “convenient lives” and being “people that never send their children to fight for their country”.
Ms Yankelevich, who is Gateshead-educated, said that she would “like to work with communities everywhere so they have a connection to people in Israel and us to them, so they feel proud that Israel is a real and active part of their life and identity”.
“Just as we in Israel understand and recognise and are proud of Jewish life abroad which is a real and active part of our identity too,” she continued.
Isaac Herzog, the Chairman of the Jewish Agency, who also spoke, said that the roundtable was a “paradigm shift” as it was the first time that “a formal forum to assist Jewish communities around the world” had been established.
Mr Herzog said that the meeting was a step towards “assisting communities through a rehabilitation period that is expected to be long and, in some cases, gruelling.”