American Jews will protest Israel finance minister’s speech in DC

by | Mar 10, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — On Sunday, an Israeli government minister is expected to give a speech at a conference in Washington, D.C.Outside, a wide swath of American Jews will protest.
The highly unusual juxtaposition is the latest outgrowth of an escalating clash between Israel’s new right-wing government and American Jews who have rarely publicly opposed speeches by Israeli government leaders.
Israel’s finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, a right-wing Israeli politician, is scheduled to speak March 12 at a conference of Israel Bonds, a group that underwrites debt securities issued by Israel.
Smotrich has repeatedly called for annexing the occupied West Bank. Last week, after a resident of the Palestinian village of Hawara killed two Jewish brothers, Smotrich said the village should be “wiped out.” Jewish West Bank settlers rampaged through the Nablus-area town, setting homes and cars on fire and killing a Palestinian resident. Smotrich has since apologized for the comment, which a U.S. government spokesperson described as “repugnant” and “disgusting.”
Earlier this week, 73 American Jewish organizations, including the Reform and Conservative Jewish movements, the two largest denominations in the U.S., pledged not to meet with Smotrich during his U.S. trip.
“The vast majority of American Jews want to tell Netanyahu’s Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, to go home,” according to a statement by the Progressive Jewish Network, which organized the pledge. “His racist and discriminatory policies, extremist and violent …

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