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Israeli lawmakers inaugurate Diaspora caucus

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli lawmakers from across the political spectrum launched a caucus to strengthen relations with Diaspora Jewry.

At least 40 Knesset members have joined the ad hoc committee co-founded by coalition chairman Zeev Elkin of the Likud Party and Nachman Shai of Kadima, which met for the first time on Tuesday.

The lobby will provide an open forum to discuss issues involving the Diaspora, but it cannot set official policy. It was formed at the initiative of Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, according to reports.

A new study of Israelis conducted by the Jewish Agency found that 91 percent of respondents believe that Israel should help Jewish communities abroad. Another 91 percent said they believed that Diaspora Jewry would stand with Israel in the face of a threat from Iran or other enemies.

Jewish Agency Secretary-General Josh Schwartz presented the study at the committee meeting.

"Jewish children were attacked in their school in Toulouse just because they and their parents wanted to maintain a connection with their Jewish heritage and the Jewish state,” Sharansky said at the meeting “This murderous attack proves to us again in the most tragic way that the enemies of the Jewish people and the enemies of the Jewish state are one and the same. The State of Israel and the Jewish people face the same threats.”
 

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