Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), has warned the Israeli government of the likely impact of its “destructive actions” on the state’s relationship with Jews worldwide.
Writing in the New York Times, Lauder urges “Israel’s government to listen to the voices of protest and outrage being heard in Israel and throughout the Jewish world.”
In particular, Lauder cites the decision in 2017 to withdraw “from an agreement that would have created an egalitarian prayer area at the Western Wall and proposed a strict conversion law that impinges on the rights of non-Orthodox Jews.”
The WJC president also pointed to steps taken this year, including a law denying “equal rights to same-sex couples”, and the nation-state law – legislation that may “have severe national and international repercussions”.
Meanwhile, Lauder continued, “last month, a Conservative rabbi was detained for the alleged crime of performing a non-Orthodox wedding ceremony in Israel. In several municipalities, attempts were made to disrupt secular life by closing convenience stores on the Sabbath.”
According to Lauder, many Jews now “wonder if the nation they cherish is losing its way”.
“Already today, the main challenge facing the Jewish diaspora is a deep — and deepening — generational divide,” he wrote.
All over the world, and especially in North America, Jewish millennials are raising doubts that their parents and grandparents never raised. The commitment to Israel and Jewish institutions is not unconditional.
“If present trends persist,” Lauder warned, “young Jews…may not fight the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, they may not support Israel in Washington and they may not provide it with the strategic rear guard that Israel so needs.”