Muslim Wire

Jewish leaders urge Obama to visit Israel

Posted in Politics, Society by muslimwire on October 20, 2009

The Israeli public’s low approval rating of Barack Obama troubles not only Washington, but also leaders in the Jewish world.Developments in the triangular relationship between Jerusalem, Washington, and North American Jewry were discussed recently in a meeting in New York, and changes in US foreign policy and their possible implications for Israel and the Jewish community were analyzed.

Sixty prominent leaders and thinkers of the Jewish people participated in the two-day event organized by the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute to assess the new situation and its possible impact on the triangular relationship.

Dan Shapiro, senior director for the Near East and North Africa at the National Security Council, addressed the group and listened to concerns raised by the participants in the proceedings.The discussions confirmed deep confidence in the strength of the US-Israel relationship, but also anxiety that the efforts of the American administration to open a new chapter with the Arab and Muslim world may erode its special relationship with Israel.

The two main challenges from the Israeli point of view—the Iranian threat and the Arab-Israeli conflict—were identified as carrying a double potential: On the one hand, strengthening the friendship between Jerusalem and Washington, but on the other, creating tension and friction between the two capitals while the Jewish community finds itself frustrated in the middle.

‘Speak to Jewish community heart to heart’

Avinoam Bar-Yosef, director-general of JPPPI, said that “during the meeting we held intensive and thorough discussions on a large number of issues and formulated a menu of possible recommendations to be submitted to decision-makers in Israel, the US and the Jewish community.”

Obama’s low approval rating in Israel is perceived as a warning sign reflecting a harmful trend that should be addressed. Various participants emphasized that in order to preserve and fortify the special relationship between Washington and Jerusalem, dialogue should be deepened between Israel, the Jewish community and the administration. “It is important that the president visit Israel, and it is vital that he speaks to the Jewish community heart to heart.”

Many participants acknowledged a recent pattern of improved communications between the parties, which indicates that there has not been a reversal of US policy toward Israel

In parallel to the geopolitical discussions, two additional working groups concentrated on various patterns that may influence the Jewish people’s future.

The

recommendations generated include: Collaborative thinking by Jewish political research bodies to create the best possible programs for the Jewish people; establishing a global electronic portal for Jewish studies; designing more experiences that enable Jewish youth to set out on journeys of discovery in which Jewish identity is explored and strengthened; making Israel a nexus for research and study, supporting and improving Jewish education in the Diaspora, and creating a Jewish global fund underwritten by the Government of Israel to support innovative initiatives by and for Jewish youth.

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