“Travel Bans Leading To Crisis In Israel-Diaspora Relations,” Israeli Minister Says

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Illustrative. Ben Gurion Airport, Israel’s main international hub, stands empty, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty); A passenger wears a face mask to protect from coronavirus in the arrival hall in Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021 during a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the virus COVID-19. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said Israel was closing its international airport to nearly all flights as the government races to bring a raging coronavirus outbreak under control. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai warned on Tuesday that Israel’s relations with Jewish communities worldwide are at a breaking point due to its COVID travel bans, Yisrael Hayom reported.

Shai called on Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to work toward a solution to the issue, saying: “We are approaching a crisis point in Israel-Diaspora relations. We have the means to maintain the public’s health even without closing the country’s borders to world Jews. It is time to also consider the overall damage that may be caused to our relationship with Diaspora Jewry.”

In a recent letter to Eric D. Fingerhut, the President and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, Bennett wrote that he regretted “any grief caused to the members of the community, who are a precious asset to the global Jewish family we are all part of. The close connection between Israel and the Jewish community around the world is a fundamental value in Israel.”

“We understand the importance of visits to Israel by North American Jewry, and we are also aware of the thousands of civilians who planned to visit their families, hold bar mitzvah events, weddings and more, and for them, the step taken [suspending air travel] was a severe blow.”

Meanwhile, government officials are saying that a solution may not be needed, depending on if travel bans will be extended or not based on how the Omicron crisis unfolds. And due to the sensitivity of the issue of debating whether all Jews around the world have the right to visit the Jewish state, it is best to let the situation play itself out.

“In two or three weeks it will be clear whether we’re going to reopen the sky or pursue measures for a longer-term,” a senior official said. “If we return to a state of open skies, as it was before the Omicron outbreak, it will resolve the issue for everyone, including Diaspora Jews. If not, we will have to look for an equal solution for everyone, Jews and non-Jews alike.”

“If it is not necessary to do so, it is better not to get into a situation where the Nation-State Law and the Law of Return are up for public discussion and scrutiny by the Supreme Court” he added. “No one knows what the results of such a debate will be, and it is better to think ahead.”

The report added that the World Zionist Organization on Tuesday announced it would lobby for an “open sky” policy for Diaspora Jews even during travel bans.

WZO Chairman Yaakov Hagoel said, “Many Jews have family and property in Israel and they cannot visit the country just because they have a foreign passport.”

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

5 COMMENTS

  1. It is too late to reverse the damage that has been done, and to get we Chutznokim to recommence giving our צדקה to Israel. We have already seen the true colors of this wicked Israel government, and why would we continue donating צדקה to Israel?
    I am banished from half of my children in Israel, because wicked bennett who is more interested in his miss universe girl friends than in we vaccinated religious Jews.
    & closing the border hasn’t even solved the Corona crisis in Israel, but did solve destroying the economy & people’s livelihoods, as well as violating the “law of Return”.

  2. As long Bennett and his leftwingers are in gouverment im not giving a penny anymore for Israel.There ara a lot of others jewish organisatins in the world to give. Should Lieberman give the money to the chilonim-

  3. The Diaspora Affairs Minister may be right about the adverse effect of border closings on Israel’s relationship with Diaspora Jewry (of which I am one). But there is a serious, deadly pandemic under way, and public health measures must rule the day. As for the Diaspora Jews who would put their desire for travel to Israel before Israeli public health, they are being selfish, narrow-minded, and, perhaps, ignorant. I do not purport to know the medically sound course for open borders, but I am confident that Israeli public health authorities have given it their best efforts, and we must live with their determinations.

  4. Mr. 147. The religious Jews and their educational institutions in Israel are suffering under the Bennett – Liberman axis of evil more than ever and need our Tzedaka more than ever. So please reconsider.

  5. The Zionist idol is the same idol it has always been. The “change government” at the head of its thugocracy is irrelevant other than the specifics of a small part of the Zionist-inflicted damage to Klal Yisrael being slightly different under this group of Zionists than under the prior one.