Preserving Israeli identity in Australia

Azriel Nevo

THE Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) should support Israelis living in the Diaspora, who risk losing their Israeli identity as they settle into their new homes. That’s the view of Brigadier General Azriel Nevo, the former military secretary to four Israeli prime ministers between the years of 1981 and 1993.

In his current role as chairman of the Global Taskforce for Israeli Communities – a subsidiary of JAFI aimed at supporting Israelis in the Diaspora – Nevo addressed the inaugural “Israelis in Australia” conference last week

The event, attended by 30 leaders of Israeli communities across the country, was jointly hosted by JAFI, the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) and the Association for Israelis in Australia.

“The State of Israel and the Jewish Agency should support these Israelis, not with money but with cultural materials. With books, Hebrew lessons and cultural activities, so they will keep their Israeli culture,” Nevo told The AJN.

“I also believe we should increase the number of Israeli scouts working abroad in Israeli communities.”

Nevo said he believes there is a “good connection” between the ZFA and the Israeli population of Australia.

However, in other countries abroad, there is a “wall” between Jewish and Israeli communities, and the rift has left Israelis detached from their roots.

“I blame both sides. Of course, many of the Israelis behave differently from their Jewish brothers in the Diaspora.

“Most of them don’t go to synagogue, some of them don’t keep kosher, most of them are not sending their children to get a Jewish education because the cost is very high. If someone doesn’t reach out to them, I’m afraid we will lose them.”

ZFA president, Philip Chester, said “We are hopeful that the recommendations made will result in stronger connections and activities between the Israeli and local Jewish communities and the State of Israel.”

TIMNA JACKS

Brigadier General Azriel Nevo.