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CEO of the American Jewish Committee in an interview: "Anti-Semitism in the US is at its worst in years" | Israel today


The former member of Congress, Ted Deutsch, came to Israel in order to promote the ties of American Jewry with senior Israeli officials. He clarifies that he does not rule out the more extreme members of the coalition: "Our agenda is to meet leaders from all parts of Israeli society"

"This is a message we do not stand behind"

: In an exclusive interview with "Israel Today", the CEO of the American Jewish Committee, former congressman Ted Deutsch, disagrees with the government's intention to cancel the "grandchild clause" in the Law of Return.

"We want the Israeli government and our friends to understand that we will work to prevent anything that would cause parts of Diaspora Jewry to begin to see Israel as a place that is not a refuge for them, especially in this time when anti-Semitism is on the rise," Deutsch said.

"A restrictive change in the Law of Return is a message that we cannot send to the Jewish community in the world, and we were clear about this in the talks we held. We want to be sure that there are no changes in relations (between Israel and the Diaspora) and there are no changes in the Law of Return that treat one part of the Jewish people differently."

Deutsch (56) served until recently for 12 years as a member of the House of Representatives in Washington, Florida, on behalf of the Democratic Party.

He was considered throughout his years of activity as a staunch supporter of Israel.

About three months ago, he began managing the "American Jewish Committee" (AJC), one of the oldest and most connected Jewish organizations around the world.

Deutsch replaced David Harris who led the organization for decades.

In the last week, Deutsch is visiting Israel with a group from the organization's management.

They met with senior officials in Israel, including opposition leader Yair Lapid, and Minister Ron Dermer, an associate of Prime Minister Netanyahu. They are expected to have a conversation with Netanyahu later this week.

The CEO of the American Jewish Committee, Ted Deutsch, in his first interview since taking office, photo: Oren Ben Hakon

Between meetings we spoke with him in Jerusalem, in his first interview with the Israeli media since he took office.

Deutsch emphasizes that "our joint mission is to promote and preserve the Jewish people all over the world and preserve the connection between all its parts and Israel, and make Israel stronger and safer."

Is it true that the state of anti-Semitism in the US today is the worst it has been in many decades?

"I don't want to get into comparisons with the past, but there is no doubt that this is the worst situation in a long time. What is worrying is the normalization of anti-Semitism. When political leaders are involved in it, when on social media they deny Israel's right to exist, when Kanye West tweets his anti-Semitism - it I invite all those who are hiding behind the rocks to come out."

During the conversation, Deutsch listed some of the committee's activities, such as a plan to grow Jewish leadership with an emphasis on support for Israel, in Jewish high schools;

delegations of opinion makers from all over the world who are invited to Israel;

A large annual conference held in Israel once every 5 years.

He emphasizes the need to act non-stop in the face of the many challenges facing Israel and the Jewish people.

"There is no magic moment when everyone says 'we succeeded in all the challenges and we can rest'. We and others continue to act."

You are surely aware of the debate here in Israel about the legal reform planned by the government.

Do you think there is cause for concern regarding Israel's democratic nature?

"The relations between Israel and the USA are more than strategists and are based on shared values, one of which is democracy.

From our point of view, in case there are changes in the institutions that are essential for democracy, our hope is that they will come as a result of the process that will include a lot of thought about civil rights.

Many people have asked what we think about the planned reform, but at this stage, I do not want to be part of this discussion."

Within the framework of Israeli democracy, would you be ready in principle to meet the ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir?

"Our agenda is to meet leaders inside and outside the government. There is no fundamental question for us to meet all parts of Israeli society. Our goal is to meet everyone."

Is there concern among many about the support for Israel of the younger Jewish generation in the USA?

"You have to understand that the story of Israel has changed. In previous generations it was about Israel as a place of refuge and salvation for Jews. Today, aside from the previous story, Israel is a prosperous nation that contributes to the world in all the most important areas such as entrepreneurship, technology, environmental quality and climate. This is a story that needs to be told ".

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Source: israelhayom

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