A prominent member of one of America's most active pro-Israel advocacy groups has said that marriage between Jews and non-Jews is a "tragedy" for Israel because it presents a "crisis" for the core of political support for the Zionist state. The remarks by Steven Bayme of the American Jewish Committee have been described as "racist".
Bayme has been included three times by the Jewish-American newspaper The Forward on its annual list of the top 50 Jewish leaders who "make a difference". He made his comments during a speech about a "crisis" within the American Jewish community, claiming that "mixed marriage threatens Jewish future." His speech was captured in a video wherein he warns the community about the decrease in the number of Jews who are growing up with a strong affinity with the state of Israel.
The "tragedy", according to Bayme, is that more than 70 per cent of non-orthodox Jews are marrying non-Jews: "We've lost 2 million Jews over the last 25 years." He wants to stem this trend by restoring traditional official disapproval of the practice.
In the video published by Mondoweiss, Bayme repeatedly cites the threat to support for Israel, because non-Jewish spouses, he claims, foster Jewish alienation from the colonial-occupation state.
Bayme suggests that younger Jews are distancing themselves from Israel and that this trend is more acute within mixed marriage families. This, he says, poses a threat to the state. "The danger obviously is that if the cause of Israel becomes an orthodox cause alone, that will be a tragedy for the Jewish people, a tragedy for the state of Israel and frankly a tragedy for American Jewry."
Intermarriage erodes the most highly-organised Jewish community in history, Bayme insists, referring to his own community. "The Conservative and Reform movements represent the architectural backbone of Jewish life. They are the ones who are mounting the case for Israel, they are ones who are giving to Jewish Federations."