A parliamentary caucus aimed at strengthening the connection between Diaspora Jewry and the State of Israel was reestablished Monday in the Knesset. The “Caucus for Strengthening the Jewish People,” which numbers over 40 Knesset members from parties across the political spectrum, will be headed by MKs Nachman Shai and Tzachi Hanegbi.
The caucus was established during the Knesset’s last term but halted operations ahead of the elections earlier this year. The caucus will focus on promoting issues of “common interest to the State of Israel and the Jewish world” through advocacy as well as legislation.
“The mutual responsibility of the State of Israel and world Jewry for each other is very deep,” said Shai. “We must invest in future generations, in the young, and in those without a connection to Israel and to build with and through them a new relationship which is based on mutual concern.”
The Jewish Agency for Israel, which already serves as a bridgehead between the State of Israel and Jewish communities across the globe, will operate in partnership with the caucus.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich welcomed the establishment of the caucus and issued a joint letter to the caucus members.
“It is unusual for the prime minister and the leader of the opposition to jointly sign a letter to a parliamentary caucus,” Yachimovich and Netanyahu wrote. “Our decision to do so relates to the importance of the goal of this lobby — strengthening the Jewish people and the connection between Israel and the Diaspora, developing the Jewish identity of the young generation of Jews and deepening the Jewish tradition.”
“It is for good reason that the caucus includes representatives from all of the Zionist parties,” the statement continued. “Cooperation between the Knesset and The Jewish Agency for Israel will allow for the realization of these vision and goals.”
“We two are ready to assist in this goal, wherever possible,” the letter concluded.
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky spoke at the caucus launch and called on its members to promote Jewish immigration to Israel.
“Since the beginning of the year we have seen a significant rise of 40 percent in aliya from France and we expect that the trend will continue,” Sharansky said. “The central reason for this trend is not the security of the community or the state of the French economy, but rather the strong connection between French Jewry and the State of Israel.”
Sharansky further said that the Jewish Agency would continue to develop programs aimed at strengthening the connection between Israel and world Jewry. The Jewish Agency chairman expressed hope that more MKs would support the government’s decision to invest in strengthening the Jewish world.
The Knesset already supports 109 different caucuses which focus on a wide range of issues, including one that specifically deals with Diaspora relations.