LISTEN: Why Israel’s Decision to Shut Out Diaspora Jews Will Rankle for Years

Haaretz Weekly
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A passenger looks at the information monitor inside a terminal at Ben Gurion international airport, Israel January 25, 2021.
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A passenger looks at the information monitor inside a terminal at Ben Gurion international airport, Israel January 25, 2021. Credit: RONEN ZVULUN/ REUTERS
Haaretz Weekly

William Daroff, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Organizations, joins the podcast to talk about what it means for Diaspora Jews to be barred from Israel for nearly two years. He sits down with host Allison Kaplan Sommer on the day Israel officially declared the United States a “red” country in its ongoing battle against COVID and the omicron variant, barring travel between the two countries.

The “frustration” of the repeated border closures and ever-changing rules, Daroff predicts, will “have a long-lasting effect on Israel’s foreign relations.” He also says he doesn’t have a problem with Israel showing a preference for admitting Jews over other visitors, since “it totally makes sense to me that, as I have a right of return, and as all Jews have a refuge here in Israel, that the standards would be different for Jews than for non-Jews.”

In addition, Daroff reacts strongly to the newly released Trump tapes in which the former president said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had shown more desire for a Middle East peace deal than then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Daroff calls Trump’s assertion “outrageous,” saying “it is clear that Abu Mazen is not a partner for peace, that he is not someone who is engaged in a legitimate effort to bring about any sort of peace or solution.”

At the same time, Trump, in his description and criticism of U.S. Jews, was “fueling dangerous stereotypes” and “radioactive tropes.”

Also discussed: Daroff’s staunch belief that anti-Zionism is equivalent to antisemitism; his message to young progressive American Jews fighting for Palestinian human rights who feel alienated from the U.S. Jewish establishment; and whether there is still a role for an umbrella organization that professes to speak in “one voice” for the entire organized American Jewish community, in an age of such deep partisan divides. 

Later in the episode (at 25:00), Haaretz Opinion Editor Esther Solomon explains why it is imperative that Jews and Israel speak out over growing incitement against Muslims in Bosnia by the Serbs.

Jews, she says, cannot let “genocide deniers” win or allow the world to forget the atrocities that took place in the 1990s – which included the creation of concentration camps, mass rape, deportations, destruction and systemic murder. 

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