American Jews’ Apathy Toward Israel Worries Dayan

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The first words of Genesis seem an appropriate place for the new Consul General of Israel in New York — who’ll be servicing Philadelphia as well — to start evaluating the task before him.

In the beginning …

The first words of Genesis seem an appropriate place for the new Consul General of Israel in New York — who’ll be servicing Philadelphia as well — to start evaluating the task before him.


“It will be irresponsible to say the fact the consulate in Philadelphia is closed would not be felt,” Ambassador Dani Dayan said during a Sept. 29 visit that included meetings with rabbis, Jewish community leaders and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “We’re doing well so far, but it’s only the beginning.

“We have to persevere and do it over time. I’ve only been [on the job] seven weeks. But over time, I will become a familiar face in the Philadelphia Jewish community.”

Shortly before he started, Dayan got a congratulatory call from an ailing Shimon Peres, who offered some advice.

“First and foremost, he said to make sure the Jewish community is kept both within here and Israel,” he recalled. “He emphasized that importance — exactly as I do — of strengthening the relationship between Israel and the United States.

“Following what President Peres said, I believe my mission here is twofold. I see myself both as ambassador of Israel to the American Jewish community and, at the same time, ambassador of the American Jewish community toward Israel.

“In some instances, that means I have to tell Jerusalem certain policies or activities should be done in a different way or not at all.”

Dayan said his visit reinforced his perceptions, including a belief that there’s a disconnect between many American Jews and Israel.

“The biggest issue now is the topic of religious pluralism in Israel and its consequences in the Jewish community here,” said Dayan, who intends to use his Hispanic background (he was born in Argentina) to reach out to Latinos. “I met with community leaders, rabbinical leaders, spiritual leaders. What concerns us all is that more than differences of opinion, there’s a sense in some centers in the Jewish community of apathy toward Israel.”

Regardless of what transpires in the upcoming election, Dayan said little will change.

“Anybody who is elected president will be good for Israel,” he predicted. “The prime minister met with the candidates and is also convinced.

“A diplomat has to be flexible, assess the situation and be pragmatic. When we know the outcome of the election, obviously we will make the necessary adjustments.”

Besides, he’s got enough here on his plate.

“We have many challenges for the coming year,” he said of 5777. “The key to confronting those challenges is our unity inside the Jewish community and between the Jewish community and Israel.

“I never see the Jewish community as a separate asset. I see it as part of us. The same way my right hand is not an asset to my left hand, but both are part of the same body.”

Contact: [email protected]: 215-832-0729

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