Siding with the government of Israel in its dispute with American Jewry over allowing egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman criticized American Jews expressing their dismay with Benjamin Netanyahu government’s stance.
“Yesterday I heard something that I thought I’d never hear. I heard a major Jewish organization say that they need to rethink their relations with Israel. We must do better,” Friedman told a B’nai B’rith gathering in Israel. Friedman acknowledged that there is “plenty of room to cast blame” on the issues of the Western Wall prayer or the new bill providing Israel’s chief rabbinate with the exclusive say over conversions to Judaism, but he stressed that American Jews “should unite behind the miracle that is Israel.”
Most major American Jewish organizations condemned the Israeli government’s action on the Wall and the conversion bill, including Jewish federations, national organizations and America’s two largest Jewish denominations — the Reform and Conservative movements.
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, was the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Ambassador Friedman To U.S. Jews: ‘Unite Behind Israel’