JUNE 29, 2017 – Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett said Tuesday that Israel’s decisions to freeze the construction of an egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall and to bolster strict Jewish conversion laws are undermining relations between Israel and diaspora Jews.
“Over the past 24 hours we have held a marathon of meetings with the heads of US Jewish communities currently in Israel, and the picture is troubling,” Bennett said. “The representatives of US Jewry feel they were slapped in the face by the Israeli government and that they are apparently no longer welcome here. Of course this isn’t true.”
Bennet admitted that “mistakes were made” by the Israeli government, but said the controversy has largely resulted from a “campaign of misinformation claiming the [Western Wall] is being closed to diaspora Jews and that the status of conversions is being changed. This is false.”
The minister affirmed Israel’s efforts to “reach an understanding” with diaspora Jews regarding these issues.