Reform Movement Cancels Meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu

Inside Leadership

Reform Movement Cancels Meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu

Press Release

Contact: Lauren Theodore at 212-650-4154

Jerusalem; June 26, 2017 - Leaders of the Reform Movement in Israel and North America have canceled a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu scheduled for this coming Thursday.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism in North America and a member of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors stated:

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Reform Movement leadership had a meeting scheduled for this Thursday. We called his office this morning and canceled it.

We cannot go about our scheduled meetings as if nothing has happened. The annulment of the Kotel resolution and the passing of the conversion law have caused an acute crisis between the Israeli government and diaspora Jewry. After yesterday's shameful decisions, we feel that at this moment, after more than four years of negotiations, it is not clear that the current Israeli government honors its agreements.

Yesterday the Prime Minister and his government walked away from a compromise agreement regarding the Kotel brokered by JAFI Chairman, Natan Sharansky, turning a cold shoulder to the majority of world Jewry, as well as the Reform Movement within Israel. The Prime Minister made this decision without even a discussion with key leaders of the North American Jewish communities. The decision cannot be seen as anything other than a betrayal, and I see no point to a meeting at this time. We will make our arguments in the Supreme Court. 

I have had the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu on nearly all of my trips to Israel since I became President of the URJ five years ago. In those meetings, which were always friendly, the Prime Minister expressed his commitment to equality for all Jews and to Jewish peoplehood. The Reform Jewish Movement and much of the Jewish world was deeply encouraged 18 months ago, when the Prime Minister and his cabinet passed the Kotel agreement. Over the past 18 months, the Prime Minister, in public and in private, has repeatedly affirmed his commitment to that agreement. Yesterday's decision is an about face from those previous commitments. 

Our agenda in Israel is full one, and I am looking forward to a heavy schedule of political and organizational meetings along with spending time with our North American teens, congregational missions, and congregations and leaders of the Israel Reform Movement. My work will continue even in the face of these decisions that convey a rejection of bedrock religious principles of a significant majority of North American Jews and a growing number of Jews in Israel. I do so because of our Movement's deep and unshakable commitment to Israel. We will speak to Members of Knesset about maintaining bipartisan support for Israel in the U.S., the peace process, the rights of minorities in Israel, and the cause of religious equality for all streams of Judaism.” 

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