Story-ideas-1011172

The Jews, they are a-changin’

by Ant Katz | Jun 24, 2014

Half of the world’s practicing Jews live in Israel and the other half are spread around the globe – with the bulk of them in the US. In 1973, at the time of the Yom Kippur War, just one sixth of world Jewry lived in Israel.

And, as much as the Israelis sought to spearhead the ingathering, they have always been an arrogant lot about their diaspora brethren.

But that attitude is changing, and it’s changing fast and furiously. There are a number of reasons why, and a number of people who have influenced this change – and I plan to share my views on this in a weekly series of blogs.

Suffice it to say that over the past few days I have been among over 100 delegates at a “Conference for Members of Leading Jewish Media” from over 30 countries in Jerusalem. I have shared cards and engaged with over 50 of the delegates. Some I knew, most of their publications I was acquainted with, and a surprising number knew of me and of the SA Jewish Report.

I have to make a point. I can’t do anything else but to do so. And right up front too! The fact that several Israeli government Ministries have been planning this event for some time and spent millions of dollars on making it happen was not just a PR exercise. Far from it. It is symptomatic of a sea-change in the attitude of the Israeli government.

And, while it’s been a long time in coming, the time is right, the reasons for it are right and the end-game has changed completely.

For today, allow me to simply provide a list of those who have addressed this conference – not the delegates, nor the incredibly hard-working team that put it all together, just those who have spoken – because the list that follows, above all, should rock the socks off us all - to the extent that that it shows how profoundly things are a-changing.

The following list of speakers is arranged in order of appearance and not of importance:

  • Nitzan Chen, Director, Government Press Office;
  • President of The State of Israel Shimon Peres;
  • Efi Stenzler, World Chairman, KKL-JNF;
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu;
  • Shmuel Rosner, New York Times Editor and Writer;
  • Henrique Cymerman, Middle East & International Affairs Expert;
  • Gary Rosenblatt, Editor and Publisher, The Jewish Week;
  • Jennifer Frazer, Comments Editor, The Jewish Chronicle;
  • Marshall Weiss, President, American Jewish Press Association;
  • Abe Foxman, National Director, the US Anti-Defamation League;
  • David Horowitz, Publisher, Times of Israel;
  • Amir Halevi, Director General, Ministry of Tourism;
  • Yuli Edelstein, Speaker of the Knesset;
  • Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Executive, The Jewish Agency for Israel
  • Jane Eisner, Editor-in-Chief, Forward;
  • Dr Yehuda Ben Meir, The Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) Fellow, Editor of INSS Insight;
  • Major General (ret.) Amos Yadlin, Director, INSS;
  • Dr Emily Landau, Senior INSS Fellow;
  • Uri Dromi, Director General, Jerusalem Press Club;
  • Barak Ravid, Diplomatic Correspondent, Haaretz;
  • Joel Greenberg, Special Correspondent, McClatchy newspapers;
  • Asaf Gibor, Arab Affairs Correspondent, Makor Rishon;
  • Elias Zananiri, CEO, Palestine Tomorrow;
  • Samer Shalabi, Chairman, FPA
  • Naftali Bennett, Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs;
  • Akiva Tor, Director, Bureau of World Jewish Affairs and World Religions, MFA
  • Head of Defence and Foreign Committee MK Zeev Elkin;
  • Former NSC Director Uzi Dayan and Palestinian entrepreneurs;
  • Major Y Kapach of the IDF Gaza Division
  • Bambi Sheleg, Founder and Editor, Eretz Acheret magazine
  • Prof Tamar Hermann, Israel Democracy Institute;
  • Rav Yosef Carmel, Rabbinical Dean and Av Beit Din of Eretz Hemdah;
  • Rebecca Caspi, Executive Director, The Jewish Federations of North America;
  • Yossi Klein Halevi, Senior Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute;
  • Lisa Hostein, Executive Editor, Jewish Exponent;
  • Hagay Elitzur, Senior Division Head, Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs;
  • Yael Weiss Gadish, Jewish Agency Representative to the GOI-World Jewry Joint Initiative;
  • Justin Korda, Executive Director, Schusterman Foundation
  • Steve Linde, Editor-in-Chief, Jerusalem Post;
  • Eyal Arad, President, Arad Communications;
  • Yigal Palmor, Spokesman, MFA;
  • Susan Fishkoff, Editor, JWeekly;
  • Shlomo Malka, RJC Radio;
  • Marcus Sheff, Executive Director, The Israel Project
  • Calev Ben David, Senior Correspondent, Bloomberg News Jerusalem
  • Uriel Heilman, Senior Correspondent, JTA;
  • Elie Singer, Founder, The Jewish Channel New York;
  • Jacob Kamaras, Publisher, Jewish News Service
  • Brigadier General Oren Avman, Chief of the IDF Ground Division;
  • The Elected President of the State of Israel Mr. Reuven (Rubi) Rivlin;
  • Haviv Gur, Correspondent, Times of Israel;
  • David Suissa, President, LA Jewish Journal/Tribe Media;
  • Dovid Efune, Editor, Algemeiner;
  • Charlotte Halle, Editor, Haaretz English Edition;
  • Dan Beylsky, Head of News Desk, “Kol Israel.”

 

So what the heck is going on here? One heck of a lot, that’s what. It is part of a new plan for world Jewry. A plan I shall be writing about in the coming weeks just as enthusiastically as I publish the amazing things I have heard and been shown.

I have experienced so many firsts over the past few days that I could write for years and not be able to share it all. I am overwhelmed. And, as it is my chosen task to be a communicator to Jewry, what else can I do but devote many long hours in the coming weeks and months to share what I have seen, heard, and read between the lines.

And, be forewarned, to any self-identifying Jew, this is going to be a tale and a half to be be told…

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7 Comments

  1. 7 Choni 25 Jun

    This conference lacks credence because amongst all the distinguished speakers one vital "opinion" is missing.

    Not one of the speakers represent God's "opinion".

  2. 6 Choni 26 Jun

    Ant, I hope you had an inspirational trip to our God given Land of Israel.

    May I ask you a few questions regarding your blog. You begin by stating that today half practising world Jewry now reside in Eretz Israel. Is this not an amazing statistic, and proof that God, indeed, is gathering in His people from the four corners of the earth? Is it not also a clear sign that the long exile (punishment) is over?

    If the present rate of immigration from the Diaspora to Israel continues on the one hand, and on the other hand, if assimilation and intermarriage continues at the rate of 100000 per year, is it not obvious that within three generations there will be no practising Jews outside of Israel?

    So my main question is. Why "flog a dead horse'.?

    Should not the leaders, especially the religious ones, in the Diaspora urgrently encourage their communities to join Hashem's long awaited ingathering.?

    Ant, as one of the 'leaders' of S.African Jewry, I hope you will give my questions some thought, and you will not mind further questions.

    Regards

    Choni Davidowitz

  3. 5 Ant Katz 26 Jun
    At a gathering of world secular media, Choni? Really?
    online.editor@sajr'co.za
  4. 4 Ant Katz 26 Jun


    Hi again, Choni.

    I certainly don’t mind you posting your views, as long as they are on topic.

    And I have a lot to share in this blog in the coming days and weeks.

    So you are welcome to tell us what you think. Don’t ask me, or others, to share what you think. I am sure
    that if anyone feels strongly enough they will engage you on it.

    But, knowing you as well as I do and for as long as I have, my friend, all I can say is watch this space, if you dare, because Israel’s plans to deal with the loss of our
    people in the diaspora are a complete about turn, unbelievably innovative (of course, because we are the millennia-old innovation nation), and are going to really, really, REALLY make you mad... online.editor@sajr.co.za
  5. 3 Choni 26 Jun

    A secular gathering? Then it has absolutely no credence at all. Do you and Geoff really consider yourselves to be secular? I think not.

    P.S. Can you perhaps answer my questions in a 'secular' way.

    Regards

    Choni, I refuse to be drawn into a conversation with an intelligent man who is pretending to be stupid so that he can keep alive a point. The conference was about secular issues and that’s it. Were it a conference about religious issues, that would be that. Gottit? If not, sorry, no further posts on this thread will be allowed. Case closed! Shabbat Shalom.

    Ant Katz  online.editor@sajr.co.za

  6. 2 Choni 26 Jun

    Ant, May I ask why our correspondence does not appear in your "recent comments" section. Is it too sensitive? I would have thought that it is very important issue for general debate?

    Hi Choni, the website itself selects those “recent comments” as the ones most recently posted. There is no way we could, or would, select what appears there. For this exact reason, we are developing a “Join the Conversation” section that debuted this week HERE – it is a work in progress and will be updated regularly, but certainly not daily.

    Ant Katz online.editor@sajr.co.za

  7. 1 Choni 27 Jun

    Can't wait to see the new innovations.

    Shabbat Shalom

    Choni

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