Forward Thinking

Israel Crowdsources 'Jewish Future' Plan Online

By Nathan Jeffay

  • Print
  • Share Share

Israeli Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett / Getty Images

The Israeli minister with the Diaspora portfolio believes that “what used to work as the Israel-Diaspora relationship doesn’t work,” he told the Forward.

Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett said that Israelis need to start deferring to Diaspora Jews regarding their needs, and the needs of the Israeli-Diaspora relationship. “I live in Israel, I don’t understand the Diaspora perfectly; the Diaspora understands itself much better,” he said.

Israel has traditionally looked at the Diaspora largely as a source of funds and immigrants, but the relationship needs to be more reciprocal, he said. Bennett made his comments ahead of a global online consultation process taking place this week, in which all Jews are being invited to voice their opinions about what provision should be made for the “Jewish future.”

One of the main questions on the table will be how the Israeli government should spend a new $140 million annual budget which it is investing in programming for Diaspora communities, in addition to its existing investment in Birthright trips.

Bennett said that the objective of the funding is to deepen Jewish identity and attachment to Israel in the Diaspora, but “we don’t know how” in Israel. “The process of building a plan is going to be a collaborative process,” he said, going on to add: “The lesson is that we [Israelis] are not the smartest people in the world and we don’t have all the answers here.”

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharasky also discussed the upcoming consultation with the Forward. “There are two things that are historical,” he said. “First, that the government is ready to put huge sums of money every year [into the Diaspora], and secondly that the partnership is a partnership of equals — all the sides are deciding together what to do as a Jewish people and where to put their money.”

The “Online Brainstorming Marathon to Plan the Future of the Jewish People” is an initiative of the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel. Any Jewish person can register to share their thoughts in the three-day discussion, which starts on Sunday.

It will take place around the clock in various languages across seven online chat rooms, and be chaired by a 30-strong team in Jerusalem. Israeli politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bennett will participate in and observe discussions, as will various Diaspora leaders.

The Israeli government and the Jewish Agency started a consultation process with leaders from Jewish communities, organizations and foundations last year, and next week’s forum is meant to bring the discussion to a more grassroots level.

The Jerusalem team facilitating the discussions will create a set of recommendations based on the points raised, and the recommendations will be presented at the Jewish Agency Board of Governors meeting later in February.

As of now, participants signed up for the consultation come from Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Benjamin Netanyahu, Diaspora, Israel, Jewish, Naftali Bennett, crowdsourcing

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.