Eretz HaKodesh – the recently formed and recently elected Charedei party within the WZO and Israel’s national institutions – expressed its strong opposition to a letter issued by the Jewish Agency for Israel, and signed on by Jewish Federations of North America, Keren Hayesod and the World Zionist Organization, that criticized the new Israeli government led by Prime Minister Binyomin Netanyahu.
The highly unusual letter issued by these four entities stated that “It is our duty to share with you our deep concern regarding voices in the government on issues that could undermine the long-standing status quo on religious affairs that could affect the Diaspora. Any changes in the delicate and sensitive status quo on issues such as the Law of Return or conversion could threaten to unravel the ties between us…”
In response, Eretz HaKodesh chairman Rabbi Pesach Lerner, in a letter to the prime minister, informed him that “these comments that have been made to you do not represent the voices of all Diaspora Jewry.”
“We wish to bring to your attention, as members of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency,” Rabbi Lerner wrote, “that the letter that was sent to you was issued without any discussion amongst the members of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency or between the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency and the national institutions. We deeply regret that the voices of Diaspora Jewry were used to express a position in Israel’s political discourse against the government, headed by you.”
The release of the letter critical of Prime Minister Netanyahu highlights the egregiousness of these groups that have aggressively tried to portray their voice as being representative of the greater Jewish community, when, in truth, there are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Jews whose values are very different from those associated with these organizations that claim to represent Diaspora Jewry. It was for this very purpose that the Eretz HaKodesh movement was founded, aimed at giving a voice to the Jewish community that is loyal to Torah and mitzvos.
Rabbi Lerner’s letter to Netanyahu was co-signed by Eretz HaKodesh delegate and member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency, Stephen L. Rosedale. “As representatives of the Eretz HaKodesh movement, which represents thousands of Jews in the Diaspora, we hereby share with you the true stance of many of the members of the Jewish communities in the United States and all over the world, who share in the joy of the establishment of a strong national government,” wrote Rabbi Lerner and Mr. Rosedale. “They, like us, support your coalition and pray for the government’s success. Despite the fact that they do not live in Israel, these Jews have their eyes on the Holy Land and stand by it… They visit the country very often, participate in economic investments in Israel, donate to our country’s institutions, send their children to study here for many years, and feel that they are an integral part of Israel’s fabric and existence. “
“Yes, there are issues relating to religious and state affairs in the State of Israel that need to be discussed. We hope that we will be invited to be part of those discussions,” added Rabbi Lerner and Mr. Rosedale. Rabbi Lerner and Mr. Rosedale went on to request “a joint meeting as soon as possible with rabbis and prominent community leaders from the United States and across the world who will depict for you our strong bond and commitment to the State of Israel as a Jewish state that is a home for every Jew in the entire world.”
“This is the first time that I can remember that any person or group, within these institutions, has spoken up so loudly in defense of Torah and mesorah,” commented a longtime member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency. “Eretz HaKodesh is definitely a game-changer within Israel’s national institutions.”