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Yair Lapid says he loves US Jewish leaders, contrasts with Netanyahu

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(JTA) — Yair Lapid called the people around the table “family” and “brothers and sisters.”

The atmosphere was unusual for the 50 or so Jewish leaders convened to meet the Israeli prime minister on Wednesday, accustomed to lectures from Benjamin Netanyahu, who Rapid wants to avoid returning to office. rice field.

Rapid, who is in New York to address the United Nations General Assembly ahead of November 1’s narrow elections, wants to separate himself from the leader of Israel’s Likud party. Love for Jews in America.

“We are one family.” You are my brothers and sisters. The Israeli government embraces all currents of Judaism. One of the priorities, and I’ll show you this: Israel must and will be an open home for all Jews.”

People in the room said Rapid only hinted at Netanyahu once, but he didn’t have to because the contrast was stark. It has revoked an agreement to expand the rights of non-Orthodox Christian practice and worship in Israel, a priority for American Jewish leaders.

Rapid made no specific commitments other than investigating complaints from attendees, but according to one attendee, he was distinguished from Netanyahu by not listening and not lecturing.

“The big difference is that Bibi takes two questions and basically just conveys his enthusiasm,” the attendee said, using Netanyahu’s nickname and anonymous because the event was off the record. “And Rapid took his 10 questions and actually answered them and worked hard.”

Netanyahu, who grew up in the United States, was also frustrated with his American Jewish interlocutors for coming across as believing them to be more knowledgeable in and out of Washington than they were, participants said. Stated.

“He’s not the prime minister of this empire who knows more about America than American Jews do,” a participant said of Rapid. “It was very conversational and by far the most enthusiastic I’ve gotten from Netanyahu.”

Sheila Katz, CEO of the National Jewish Women’s Council, declined to comment on the details, nor to mention the differences between Rapid and Netanyahu. But generally speaking, she said she was impressed with the diversity and Rapid’s commitment to reaching out to all Americans.

“He shared a lot about his desire to do more to bring people together,” Katz said.

Rapid’s only reference to Netanyahu was a joke and he did not use his name. Paused: “I actually want to. One participant told him the session was off the record and encouraged him to speak up. Rapid replied, ‘Off the record, with 50 Jews?’ said.

Last year, Netanyahu, who was in power for 12 years, persuaded former President Donald Trump to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, reach a normalization deal with four Arab nations, and take action in Africa. Expanding relations with Israel. He highlights his foreign policy experience to return to power, citing Rapid’s recklessness on the Israeli-Palestinian front and the Biden administration’s rejoining of the widely-opposed Iran nuclear deal in Israel. Talks between the US, Iran and other parties are currently stalled.

Rapid wants to highlight the downsides of Netanyahu’s record, which include alienating much of America’s Jews, marginalizing Democrats, and having strained relations with some of Israel’s neighbors. When he speaks at the General Assembly on Thursday, Rapid will reiterate Israel on the two-state outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, key demands of the Biden administration, and what President Joe Biden referred to in his own UN speech. It is reportedly set to commit.

Rapid’s social media team also exaggerated Rapid’s friendly meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with whom Netanyahu has had a dispute for years, and with King Abdullah of Jordan. A Muslim that Jordan assists in managing.

The Jewish leaders reciprocated the love in a louder and more subdued way in the room after the meeting with a joint statement by the Presidential Conference and the Jewish League of North America.

“We are honored to have met with Prime Minister Yair Lapid and thank him for prioritizing meetings with leaders of the North American Jewish community on the eve of his address at the United Nations General Assembly. I do,” the statement said. “At our meeting, we discussed important issues such as growing anti-Semitism around the world and the threat of Iran. We look forward to continuing our close cooperation with the Israeli government on issues of common importance to the North American Jewish community.”