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Finance Ministry may shut down Diaspora Ministry amid changing priorities during Hamas war

Jewish communities worldwide express concerns

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich attends a press conference at the Ministry of Finance in Jerusalem, October 15, 2023. (Photo: Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90)

Clerks from the Israel's Ministry of Finance are reportedly recommending to close down the Diaspora Affairs and Combatting Antisemitism Ministry amid the Hamas war according to Hebrew media.

The Finance Ministry says it also wants to close other ministries that are not considered crucial at this time, in an effort to save and channel funding towards financing the ongoing war against the Hamas terror organization.

Military experts have argued that the war could last for months and even up to a year. Since the bulk of Israeli military consists of reservists, it is expected to have a dramatic impact on the Israeli economy.

In early November, the Israeli financial paper Calcalist reported that, based on Financial Ministry estimates, the Israel-Hamas war could potentially cost Israel over $50 billion depending on the length of the war.

The Diaspora Ministry is considered an important bridge between the Jewish state and Jews in the diaspora, which has resulted in Jewish communities worldwide expressing concerns over the potential closure of the organization.

However, representatives from both the Finance Ministry and Diaspora Ministry reportedly reassured readers in The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that the Diaspora Ministry was not immediately threatened by the planned financial cuts.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has been a driving force in the effort to change the Jewish state’s budget priorities during times of war. However, at the same time, Smotrich has reportedly postponed a decision to freeze some coalition government funds in the overall effort to cut state expenses.

The Diaspora Ministry’s efforts to combat antisemitism are considered especially significant now, amid the spike in antisemitism sweeping across the globe due to the Hamas war. Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza has affected Jewish communities in North America, Europe, South Africa, Australia, and particularly in Western nations with large Muslim communities, such a France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Antisemitism has reportedly increased by a whopping 500% compared to 2022, according to a new joint survey by the World Zionist Organization and the Israeli Diaspora Affairs and Combating Antisemitism Ministry.

The vast majority of diaspora Jews – 87% of the surveyed respondents – reported “feelings of diminished safety, accompanied by prevailing emotions of anger, anxiety and shock.”

The exploding hatred against Jews is not limited to the streets of America and Europe. The World Zionist Organization survey also noted a dramatic 400% increase in antisemitism online.

Avi Cohen-Scali, CEO of the Diaspora Affairs and Combating Antisemitism Ministry, expressed concerns over the escalating antisemitism worldwide amid the Hamas war.

“We’re witnessing alarming waves of antisemitism in numerous countries. Addressing this necessitates a unified approach, bringing together government efforts and Jewish communities, Cohen-Scali stated.

“It’s an essential step towards effectively countering antisemitism and, more importantly, safeguarding Jewish lives. We are currently strategizing on actionable measures to address this pressing situation,” he added.

In late October, an antisemitic mob in the majority-Muslim Dagestan Republic in Russia stormed a local airport with the intention of killing Jewish passengers who arrived on a flight from Tel Aviv.

“We came for the Jews – to kill them with a knife and shoot them,” one rioter said in a released video clip from the incident. No Jewish passengers were hurt, and the flight was eventually safely redirected to a different airport.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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