New Cabinet Needs to Focus on the Jewish Diaspora

by Gedalyah Reback

There is, believe it or not, a way to end this potential diplomatic crisis that Avigdor Lieberman’s appointment as Foreign Minister would cause for the Israeli government.

Lieberman’s party was the only one elected to the Knesset that ran on a platform that included expanding the Israeli relationship with the Jewish diaspora. Even though his primary focus would be on Russian Jews and may lack a vision in regards to religious communities, his platform is badly needed in the next Israeli government.

As pointed out this week by Ha’aretz blogger Anshel Pfeffer, Lieberman is one of the few Israeli politicians who is at all aware that Jews exist outside the country’s borders. That is, he doesn’t see Diaspora Jewry solely as a source of invitations to swanky events and campaign donations. (http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1072494.html)

Yisrael Beitenu would serve in an incredibly constructive capacity to rebuild relationships with Jewish communities abroad, and it would be much easier to get liberal Jews to work with Lieberman’s party than it will be liberal activists outside the Jewish community in Diaspora countries.

Given these considerations, and the need to give Yisrael Beitenu a so-called ‘major ministry’ in the new government, I’d suggest merging the Ministries of Immigrant Absorption and Diaspora, Society and the Fight Against Anti-Semitism” and giving this position to Lieberman, leaving open the slot of Foreign Minister to someone else, probably a Minister from Likud.

Even if Lieberman is not the best man for this position at this time, he is the best available, and it would be a waste to put him in a precarious, controversial position at a time of a crisis for Israel’s image abroad.

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