By COLlive reporter
Israeli Knesset member and former mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat met with officials of Lubavitch World Headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, as part of his diplomatic mission to the United States last week.
Barkat, who has aspirations for Likud party leadership and Israel’s premiership, is on a self-funded trip to lobby against the reopening of the American consulate for Palestinians in East Jerusalem. A move being considered by President Joe Biden‘s administration.
In meetings with both Democratic and Republican senators and congress members, he said such a move would undercut the historic U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Instead, he suggested opening a consulate in Ramallah.
U.S. lawmakers “understand that this is something that the Israeli public is strongly against,” he told Jewish Insider. “It’s a move you don’t want to make without thinking. And they understand that this is a process that America respects, as a democracy.”
Barkat’s trip included discussions about the sharp rise of antisemitism in the United States and the masking of anti-Israel rhetoric as legitimate criticism. Meeting with Chabad officials in the Crown Heights neighborhood on Friday, he heard an argument on how to combat it.
Barkat met with Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Vice Chairman of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch and Chairman of the International Kinus Hashluchim conference, and his son Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, Executive Director of Merkos 302 which provides services to Chabad centers.
Joining were leaders of the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute (JLI) including Executive Director Rabbi Efraim Mintz, COO Rabbi Dubi Rabinowitz and Rabbi Zalman Abraham. JLI is the largest provider of Jewish adult education in over 900 cities around the world.
Antisemitism is on the minds of a large percentage of Jews in the United States, said Rabbi Mintz. “Antisemitism must also be combated through education,” he said, adding that it is important to share the wisdom of Torah and Chassidus as it applies to this timely subject.
In October 2021, JLI will be presenting the new course “Outsmarting Antisemitism: How to Beat it with Purpose, Positivity and Jewish Pride.” It will be exploring the dark subject “with a sense of unabashed optimism, profound faith, and a distinctly Jewish approach.”
Impressed by what he heard, Barkat attested that “Chabad is most effective in conveying this message.”
Earlier in the day, Barkat visited the Rebbe’s Ohel in Queens and then continued to 770 where he put on Tefillin in the Rebbe’s room. He toured the WLCC broadcasting room which aired the Rebbe’s farbrengens and the Agudas Chassidei Chabad Library. He was accompanied by his friend Yossi Goldberger.
VIDEO: Barkat speaks to JLI’s Land and Spirit visit to Israel