Jewish student leaders are turning their backs on Amichai Chikli

As elected Jewish student leaders from different countries representing over 160,000 committed Jewish students at the American Jewish Committee Global Forum, we feel compelled to condemn Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Amichai Chikli, scheduled to speak at this year’s closing plenary. We acknowledge that many Jewish organisations feel forced to choose between maintaining institutional ties and preserving their values and ideals.

We strive to represent all Jews in our community, irrespective of who they are, how they practice their Judaism, and who they love. In line with these values and our commitment to Israel, we cannot normalise extremist views. Chikli described pride as “disgraceful vulgarity” and sees the pride flag as an anti-zionist symbol.

Chikli has denigrated reform Jews. In his words, “they are going back to their roots in Germany of anti-Zionism and anti-nationalism. It’s a tragedy that they are going there.” At a time when Jews in the diaspora face rising antisemitism, it is unconscionable for anyone who professes to be a Jewish leader to incite hatred towards other Jews. 

In the last 48 hours, Chikli has demeaned himself and his office by using George Soros, a  lightning rod for antisemitic conspiracy theories, to attack a diaspora Jewish organisation. When Elon Musk said Soros “hates humanity” who seeks to “erode the fabric of civilisation”, echoing historic antisemitic tropes. Chikli replied, “Criticism of Soros (…) is anything but antisemitism, quite the opposite!” As campus leaders who fight antisemitism every day, we know the dangers of those tropes and those who defend them.

Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs does not speak for the diaspora. Some of us have met with him and attempted to engage with him, however, his disdain and disregard for our communities has become clear. 

Amichai Chikli does not speak for the students we have been elected to represent.

Avital Grinberg, President of the European Union of Jewish Students
Joel Rosen, President of the Union of Jewish Students (UK and Ireland)
Alissa Foster, President of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students