Bennett to US Jewry: We need to rethink our relationship

The Israeli prime minister argued that the foundations that have characterized the relations between Israel and the U.S. for the past few decades are no longer relevant.

By Tobias Siegal, World Israel News

Following his first address to the UN General Assembly on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addressed leaders of the American Jewish community and spoke about the need to reshape the relationship between U.S. Jewry and the State of Israel.

It seems like Bennett’s personal story, being the son of American immigrants to Israel, struck a chord with his audience, which welcomed him with applauds. “I wish my mom were here,” the prime minister said.

Due to capacity limits, leaders from some of the 146 Jewish Federation branches from throughout the country were piped in using Zoom, displayed on large screen televisions in the room.

Adopting a different and perhaps warmer tone than his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu, Bennett started his speech by sincerely thanking his audience. “You have our back, and it just means a lot,” he said. “It doesn’t mean we’re going to agree on everything. We’re not. But we’re going to talk to each other and we’re going to listen to each other,” he added.

However, he argued that the foundations that have characterized the relations between Israel and the U.S. for the past few decades are no longer relevant. It’s time to start a new chapter in our relationship, Bennett stated.

“Since the inception of Israel, and actually it predates the inception of Israel, Israel has been the project of the Jewish people,” Bennett said. “But we’re doing OK,” he noted, pointing to Israel’s growing economy and notable hi-tech sector. “Now, we have to redesign our relationship.”

Instead of requiring assistance, Israel now provides an important strategic objective for the U.S., Bennett implied, talking about the important role that Israel holds in the Middle East and noting President Joe Biden’s saying: “If there weren’t an Israel, we would have to invent one.”

Recalling the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, Bennett said: “We are nine million boots on the ground, we are fighting, we are—day-in, day out—in touch with those terrorists. We’re gaining intelligence methodologies and we’re fending them [off] without ever asking America to send even one troop and we never will,” he said.

“We are not the problem. We’re the solution smack in the middle of the toughest region in the world” and “we’re not going anywhere,” Bennett continued. “The very essence of use here, is that terror is at bay, to a degree.”
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Dmitriy Shapiro/JNS.org contributed to this report.