MiamiHerald / On Sunday, thousands of people will convene in Los Angeles for the annual General Assembly (GA) of the Jewish Federations of North America. While the program deals with all the important issues Jews are facing, the talk of the conference undoubtedly will be the absence of one Jew: the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.
The fact that Netanyahu decided not to come to the GA is extraordinary. Every Israeli prime minister has addressed this gathering – and been greeted with standing ovations. Even attendees who didn’t necessarily subscribe to the policies of a particular prime minister were proud to be in the presence of the leader of the Jewish state.
So why won’t Netanyahu attend? Because he wants to avoid an unprecedented embarrassment, where, instead of cheered, he would be booed. Why? Because he has let them down, preferring his own political survival over fulfilling his promises to them.
The issue at stake is a long struggle of Reform and Conservative American Jews to be able to pray at the Wailing Wall, the sacred remnant of the Second Temple. While in America they constitute the majority of Jews, in Israel their numbers are small and, therefore, lacking any political power. They are kept at arm’s length by the Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox hegemony in Israel, which doesn’t recognize them as “real” Jews.