Israelis abroad under-utlilised

April 11, 2014 by  
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Participants at a Global Israeli Leadership Summit held in London have been told that Israelis living in the Diaspora must be recognised by the Israeli government as being an integral part of the world-wide Jewish community.

Delegates      All photos: Raya Kottrell

Delegates                                         All photos: Raya Kottrell

Israeli MP Avraham (Avi) Wortzman, the Deputy to the Minister of Education opened the summit by saying: “The Israeli government recognizes that unless drastic measures are taken to strengthen and empower this tie, it is not fulfilling its obligation”

70 participants from 13 countries attended the opening of the Global Israeli Leadership Summit in London.

The participants at the fourth Global Israeli Leadership Summit, majority of whom  volunteer within their own communities on a regular basis, travelled to London at their own expense to take part in driving for a change –global dialogue and exchange of initiatives is no longer sufficient.  This time the forum was determined to make a difference by joining forces and taking real, tangible, meaningful actions.

Eitan Drori from Melbourne, Anat Koren from London, Deputy Minister of Education,  Avi Worzman and Ran Mesterman from Toronto

Eitan Drori from Melbourne, Anat Koren from London, Deputy Minister of Education, Avi Worzman and Ran Mesterman from Toronto

The conference was initiated by Israeli representatives from four different communities around the world: Anat Koren, publisher and Editor in Chief of the “Alondon” magazine in London and the Israeli representative at the Board of Deputies in Britain; Ran Mesterman, a businessman who has been living in Canada for the past nine years and carries out voluntary work for the Jewish Federation in Toronto; Eitan Drori, the Executive Director of the “Australian Friends of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem-VIC”  is also the Founder and President of AIA – The roof body of Israelis in Australia; and Oren Heiman, one of the founders of the establishment of the New York council – the umbrella organization of the Israeli community in the New York region.

Amongst the supporters who contributed to the success of the summit was the Jewish Agency, which has committed itself to the Israeli community subject and dedicated significant amount of effort and resources over the past 18 months.  The Agency also stood behind the organization of the previous summits (Melbourne Australia and New Jersey, NY).  Additional important support was received from the Ministry of ALIYAH and Immigrant Absorption through its Israeli House in London and the UJIA – United Jewish Israeli Appeal.

The common goal shared by all participants was concise and ground breaking; the government of Israel must recognize that the Israeli communities in the diaspora are an integral part of the Jewish people, who believe in their ability to contribute and drive for a change regardless of where they choose to lead their lives.

Israeli Knesset Member and Deputy Minister of Education, Avi Wortzman, who came to London for the conference, said: “In the past year Israeli government has focused on its obligation to strengthen its relationship with Israeli communities around the world. If Israel is not able to find a solution to this problem, it does not do its job properly”.

Wortzman called for an official representation of the Israeli communities to be elected (supported by the Ministry of Education and the State of Israel). “We recognize the importance of the Israeli communities in the Diaspora. We must work together in order to fulfill our responsibility towards our children, and now is the time to act!” he said.

Netaly Ophir-Flint , Managing Director of “Reut” institute said: “The most under-utilized human resource in the global Jewish community is the Israeli community in the Diaspora. The equation is simple; the government’s attitude toward Israeli immigrants was suitable for a young, developing country with limited resources as was the case a few decades ago.  The circumstances changed and Israel of today is a “well-oiled machine”, strong and financially sound. However, the formal policy as far as Israelis in the diaspora are concerned remained in the same place that it was 50 years ago and it is time for change”.

After three days of intense deliberations, open panels presentations and inter-community networking, the forum agreed to divide its activities into a number main areas; identifying and creating a detailed map of the Israeli communities worldwide, inter-community cooperation in areas concerning education, culture and the creation of uniform Israeli identity across the globe, business networking, resource allocation and fund raising for joint projects – one of which is the organization of the next summit.

“What was considered applicable and acceptable decades ago, is no longer relevant” was the unequivocal and unprecedented outcome of the summit.  The Israelis in the diaspora are a unique asset which acts as a living bridge to the Jewish Community.  The historic global cooperation which was formed, lays the corner stone to a new era which will see Israeli communities join forces in areas of education and culture, but most importantly, strengthening the Israeli identity among second and third generations of Israelis living outside the country of Israel.  This cooperation sets the foundation for the acclaimed recognition that this asset is instrumental and vital for any commercial, cultural and is a fundamental tool to carrying out Israel’s diplomacy goals.

Melbourne-based Eitan Drori and Noam Rozen joined Yoav Lewis from Sydney at the conference. All three are members of AIA, the Association of Israelis  in Australia.



Photo 1 – the organizers with MP Avraham Worzman at the opening of the Global Leadership Israeli Summit (from right), Ran Mesterman from Toronto, Deputy Minister of Education MP Avi Worzman, Anat Koren from London and Eitan Drori from Melbourne

Photo 2 – participants photo – 70 participants from 13 countries

Photo 3 – Deputy Minister of Education, Avi Worzman and the opening speech

Photographs by Raya Kottrell

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