Channeling former US president John F. Kennedy, Diaspora Minister Nachman Shai calls to reverse the thinking about Israel’s relationship with the Diaspora, from how foreign Jews can help Israel — to how Israel can help them.
Shai makes his remarks at an event in Basel, Switzerland, marking the 125th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress, where Zionist leader Theodor Herzl laid the groundwork for the formation of the State of Israel 51 years later.
“Here, 125 years ago, Herzl walked the streets of Basel and formulated his vision. He turned to leaders and influential Jews all over the world to harness support for a task that seemed impossible — establishing a state for the Jewish people. Without Diaspora Jewry, the State of Israel would probably not have been established,” Shai says.
“Today, 125 years after that pivotal congress, the paradigm has changed. The State of Israel is thriving and leading in many fields — and it is now time to ask what Israel can do to secure the destiny of the Jewish people and Jewish resilience around the world,” he says.
In the speech, Shai also encourages Israel and Diaspora Jewry to find a new way of balancing their engagement with one another without overstepping their bounds and interfering in internal issues.
“It is our duty, as a state and as a government, to find ways to integrate the voices of world Jewry into the decision-making process within the State of Israel. Many of the decisions we make in Jerusalem affect not only the citizens of Israel, but Jewish communities around the world alike,” Shai says.