Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL

"Beit Israeli" Israeli House Established in NYC in Order to Bring Together Israelis Abroad

by Gad Nahshon

"Israel is looking to establish good relations and feedback between the state and its citizens abroad. Without you, we cannot achieve this goal," said Shmuel Sisso, Consul General of Israel, in New York City at the opening meeting of the new Beit Israeli (Israel House), which took place recently at the offices of Bnai-Zion, whose Executive Director Mel Parnes, welcomed the guests and the celebrities who attended this event. Ambassador Sisso praised Bnai Zion as the most important Zionist organization which has always helped Israel and the Israelis.

The M.C. of this successful event was Consul Igal Tsarfati who came to New York City from his diplomatic activities in Rome. Tsarfati is in charge of helping the Israeli citizens and solving their various administrative problems. Indeed, Israel runs a few activities for its citizens in order to reinforce or sustain their Israeli identity and culture, but now Mr. Tsarfati promised to run the 'Israel Beit' as a permanent institution for relationships between Israel and its citizens abroad and their children. There are many 'Israeli Beit' or Israeli Houses in the U.S. and in other countries. The Absorption Ministry in Israel is partner in this goal of running the 'Israeli Beit.' But Israel does not have a central governmental organization which systematically takes care of this goal: linkages between Israelis and Israel.

There are around 400,000 Israelis living in this country and around 40,000 in Canada. Mr. Amnon Ben-Ami and Ms. Prigat came to this successful event as representatives of Israel's Minister of Absorption. The Minister is Professor Yuli Tamir. She visited the U.S. recently but she was prepared to discuss the issues of the 'peace process' with various Jewish-American organizations. Consul Tsarfati, a diplomat with an optimistic approach to life and a true gentleman, called on the participants to help him to develop a new friendship between Israel and its daughters and sons. It should be noted that in the past the attitude of the Israeli political establishment to the citizen abroad was negative. They were depicted as 'deserters' from the battle. They were called 'Yordim' or those who are the opposite of Olim. But this attitude has been changed. By the way: Israel's Foreign Minister David Levy should be accredited with this change. He established in the past, as Israel's Absorption Minister in the Menachem Begin government, a more honest and liberal attitude toward the so called 'Yordim' and their second generation.

The guest of this Bnai Zion event was Assi Dayan, a well known film producer and a noted actor. Mr. Dayan, a grass roots sabra screen, a very interesting documentary which he produced with his wife, Vered Tandler-Dayan, and others. It is a peep into the life of Assi Dayan, an autobiographical film. Assi Dayan, the son of Moshe Dayan, has been a non-conformist who loves provocations. After the screening was over, Dayan and his wife answered some questions. But some guests were not happy since they resented the fact that Dayan used this event to outline his leftist political views. He also said that those who live abroad have no right to be critical of the 'peace process' or the Golan's issue. Since doing so, Dayan claimed, one becomes a militant who is sending the Israelis to die in the battles. Or, Dayan came out against what he defined as political hypocrisy.

The conclusion is that if you live abroad you must support with closed eyes the 'peace process', the one that Barak's government is following. The idea of the 'Israeli Beit' of course, is to unite Israelis abroad, to develop the 'cement' which will hold them together. Consul Igal Tsarfati said that many other cultural activities has been planned for the 'Israeli Beit' in the new future.

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