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AJC: Statements from potential ministers concerning, but we’ll work with any gov’t

MKs Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich at a rally of their Religious Zionism party in the southern city of Sderot on October 26, 2022. (Gil Cohen-Magen / AFP)
MKs Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich at a rally of their Religious Zionism party in the southern city of Sderot on October 26, 2022. (Gil Cohen-Magen / AFP)

The American Jewish Committee breaks its silence regarding the rise of the far-right Religious Zionism party, acknowledging that statements from some of its members “raise serious concerns,” while clarifying that it will work with those in government who are committed to democratic values.

AJC refrained from commenting on the matter until throughout the campaign, arguing that it did not want to interfere in the Israeli democratic process — something it had no problem doing in 2019 when it warned against the rise of the Otzma Yehudit party, which made significant gains yesterday running on a joint slate with Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionism.

The prominent, mainstream Jewish organization avoids mentioning any politicians by name in its statement, saying only: “For AJC, and for many Jews in America, Israel and around the world, past statements of some potential members of the governing coalition raise serious concerns about issues we prioritize: pluralism, inclusion, and increased opportunities for peace and normalization.”

“Regardless of the composition of any governing coalition, we will continue to work with those in the Israeli government and in Israeli society who are committed to advancing democracy, inclusion, and peace, and to combating efforts to undermine these values,” the statement adds.

AJC’s position goes further than the Jewish Federations of North America, another prominent, mainstream umbrella Jewish organization. That group released a statement earlier today saying it respected the results of Israel’s election and looked forward to working with whatever government is formed.

Asked specifically if the group had a problem working with Ben Gvir or Smotrich, a JFNA spokesperson does not indicate any specific concerns.

“We have worked with every Israeli government in the past. The makeup of this particular coalition will take weeks to finalize,” a Jewish Federations of North America spokesperson says.

“The North American Jewish community’s relationship with Israel is built on our shared values and ideals, such as democracy, support of the rule of law, and equal justice for all. It is always our priority to strengthen these shared values,” the spokesperson says.

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