After Beilin’s Gaffe, Rabin Mends Fences with U.S. Jews

Following some poorly received remarks by the deputy foreign minister, Yossi Beilin, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin hasassured leaders of American Jewish fund-raising organizations his strong and ongoing support.

“I see great importance in the continuation — even more, the intensification — of fund-raising efforts among the Jews of the free world, and in deepening education activities for the strengthening of Jewish identification with Israel,” Rabin wrote to the head of the United Israel Appeal, Shoshana Cardin.

Rabin’s letters, to Cardin and to Jay Yoskowitz, the executive vice chairman of the UIA, came after Beilin’s criticism of Diaspora fund-raising.

In several speeches and media appearances, Beilin suggested that Israel’s current economic and political strength made the traditional form of United Jewish Appeal-Federation fund-raising obsolete. He recommended the dismantling of the present UJA-to-Jewish Agency funding structure, in which the UIA serves as a middleman. He suggested that the funds raised would be better used to finance Jewish education in the Diaspora.

Rabin called Beilin’s remarks “idiotic.”

In his letters, written last week and made available to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, he referred to “recent statements made in Israel about the role of Jewish fund-raising campaigns overseas.”

“The central role of the state of Israel is to serve as a sanctuary for Jews from distressed communities, as well as to present a challenge for Jews from developed countries who wish to build their homes here,” he wrote.

The immigrations from the former Soviet Union, from Ethiopia, Yemen and other countries, Rabin wrote, “have placed and are placing before the State of Israel, the Jewish people and the various campaigns one of the greatest Zionist challenges since the state was established.

“I believe that the Jewish organizations in the Diaspora have a very important role to play in strengthening the Jewish and Zionist infrastructure of Jewish communities, and in the building and development of Israeli society.

“The involvement of Diaspora Jewry with Israel, its problems and accomplishments, is the key to reinforcing the relationship between us and deepening the connection of Diaspora Jews with Israel.

“Fund-raising should bring with it,” Rabin said, “investment in the Israeli economy. It should be conducted as part of a comprehensive educational effort whose purpose is to make Israel the center of Jewish identity and experience.”

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