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Jewish assimilation in US is ‘like a second Holocaust,’ Israeli minister claims

Jewish assimilation in US is ‘like a second Holocaust,’ Israeli minister claims
Intermarriage among diaspora Jews – particularly those in North America – is “like a second Holocaust,” Israeli Education Minister Rafi Peretz declared in a cabinet meeting, uniting much of that diaspora in shocked offense.

The Jewish community “lost 6 million people” over the last 70 years because of intermarriage and assimilation, Peretz told a cabinet meeting on trends in Jewish communities around the world, particularly in the US. His spokesman confirmed the statement to Israeli Channel 13.

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American Jews, unsurprisingly, were outraged. Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt called the remarks “inconceivable” in a tweet, adding that “This kind of baseless comparison does little other than inflame and offend.” The ADL tweeted an additional response in Hebrew, blaming Peretz’s statement for “add[ing] to the already existing tension between Israel and US Jewry” and pleading with him to “engage in respectful dialogue.”

Israel’s government has a moral responsibility to maintain and improve the country’s relationship with diaspora Jews in general, and with the American Jewish community in particular,” Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, a Jewish organization that advocates for people with disabilities.

And Peretz’s fellow ministers – some of them, anyway – took a dim view of the comment. “First we need to stop disregarding and looking down on Jews in America that see themselves as Jews not only religiously but even more culturally and historically,” argued Minister of Energy Yuval Steinitz.

But PM Benjamin Netanyahu shared Peretz’s alarm over demographic trends, claiming US Jews are abandoning Jewish traditions in a trend that is not easily reversed.

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Support for Israel among American Jews has been declining for years, and Peretz’s comments – far from the first to compare assimilation to the Holocaust – are unlikely to heal the rift.

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