In closed conversation with individuals involved in Israel-Diaspora relations, Prime Minister Netanyahu last week said that Non-Orthodox Jewry in North America would disappear within a generation or two, and low birth rates among Progressive Jews would be the primary cause of the collapse of their demographic group, according to a report by Ariel Kahane in Makor Rishon.
Israeli Ambassador to the the US Ron Dermer made similar observations in the past.
Netanyahu further said that the high assimilation rates in the non-Orthodox sectors constitutes a threat to their very continued existence, and Israel should prepare for the day when the support base of North American Jews will no longer be there.
Recent studies have shown that as many as 80% of non-Orthodox Jews have married non-Jews, and expensive private Jewish education in the US is forcing parents to send their children to public schools, further diminishing their Jewish connection.
In addition, the Reform and Conservative movements have begun taking a very hostile attitude towards Israel, which impacts negatively their communities’ Jewish identity.
Netanyahu estimated that within a generation or two, support for Israel from the non-Orthodox demographic groups will be close to zero.
According to the report, Netanyahu believes Israel must continue to embrace the non-Orthodox communities and not give them the cold shoulder, but in the long-term it is not worthwhile to over-invest in helping them retain their Jewish identity and connection to Israel, since it is impossible to stop their descent into assimilation.
Israel will need to rely more on America’s pro-Zionist Orthodox Jewry, whose love and connection to Israel is stronger than ever. In addition, Israel needs to strengthen its connections with pro-Israel Christians, whose political and electoral clout are growing.
Netanyahu’s office responded to the Makor Rishon report stating that it isn’t accurate, and does not represent the views of the Prime Minister. “The Prime Minister respects all the streams of Judaism,” his office said.