(June 14, 2022 / JNS) Heads of major Jewish organizations, led by the Jewish Agency for Israel, delivered a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett calling on the Israeli government to designate those killed in anti-Semitic incidents outside of Israel as official victims of terror.
The letter urges the prime minister to commemorate these victims in state ceremonies, as they are an “integral part of national memory.”
The request follows an initial appeal by Yaakov Hagoel, the Jewish Agency’s acting chairman of the executive and chairman of the World Zionist Organization, to the prime minister. Hagoel also conducted meetings on the subject with officials from the Prime Minister’s Office. A joint committee is being established to examine the matter.
The signatories of the letter include Hagoel, as well as Michael Siegal, outgoing chairman of the Jewish Agency’s board of governors; Mark Wilf, outgoing chairman of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) board of trustees and incoming chairman of the Jewish Agency’s board of governors; Steven Lowy, chairman of the world board of trustees of Keren Hayesod; Sam Grundwerg, world chairman of Keren Hayesod; and Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO of JFNA.
“We view this as extremely important due to the sharp rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents compared to last year,” they wrote, citing that 2022 has already seen a 30% increase in anti-Semitic incidents outside of Israel, with some 200 Jews killed in such attacks around the world since the establishment of the State of Israel.
The authors lamented that on Yom Hazikaron—Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism—when the country comes to a complete stop to commemorate Israeli victims, those who are killed in anti-Semitic attacks abroad are not acknowledged.
“Ironically, on this day, which strongly symbolizes the unity of the Jewish people, a large part of our people, Diaspora Jewry, seems to have been forgotten,” they wrote.
“Diaspora and Israeli Jews are brothers and part of the same people. Diaspora Jews are targeted by terrorists around the world because of hatred of Jews and Israel,” they argued, providing examples of the deadly shootings at the Hyper Cacher grocery store in Paris in 2015 and at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in 2018.
They added: “Just as the State of Israel is the state of the Jewish people, and therefore considers itself collectively responsible for the fate of Jews around the world, it must see itself as responsible in this matter as well. This is a blood connection between Israelis and Diaspora Jews.”
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