JEWISH groups have expressed outrage over a remark made recently by newly-appointed Education Minister Rafi Peretz, above, who claimed that the rate of intermarriage among US Jews is ‘like a second Holocaust’.
Peretz, a former chief rabbi of the Israeli army, is the leader of the Union of Right Wing Parties bloc.
He blamed intermarriage for the “loss” of lost six million Jews over the past 70 years.
The Ruderman Family Foundation, which has taken Israeli politicians on tours of American Jewish communities in recent years, condemned Peretz’s remarks as “irresponsible and disrespectful”.
The foundation’s President, Jay Ruderman, said in a statement that:
Israel’s government has a moral responsibility to maintain and improve the country’s relationship with Diaspora Jews in general, and with the American Jewish community in particular. It is irresponsible and disrespectful to talk about US Jews without talking with them.I call upon all of Israel’s leaders, and especially those in office, to dedicate time and resources to learn more about the American Jewish community, its life and its challenges. A conversation between the sides is needed. But this requires time and planning, not random comments detached from an ongoing, respectful discourse.
The American Jewish Congress also condemned his remarks:
Assimilation challenges Jewish continuity and Diaspora identification with Israel and must be grappled with. Minister Peretz’s comments, however, are offensive and unhelpful.
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, was also critical of Peretz.
It’s inconceivable to use the term ‘Holocaust’ to describe Jews choosing to marry non-Jews. It trivializes the Shoah (Holocaust). It alienates so many members of our community. This kind of baseless comparison does little other than inflame and offend.
Peretz made the statement at a cabinet meeting on July 1 which included a briefing by Dennis Ross, Chairman of the Board of the Jewish People Policy Institute, on trends in Jewish communities around the world, especially in North America. The topic of intermarriage came up during the briefing.
Hat tip: Antony Niall