Annual Assessments

2020 Annual Assessment

Situation and Dynamics of the Jewish People

Annual Assessment

תש”פ | 2020


Project Head

Shmuel Rosner


Avinoam Bar-Yosef, Dan Feferman, Shlomo Fischer, Avi Gil,
Inbal Hakman, Michael Herzog, Gitit Levy-Paz, Dov Maimon, Steven Popper, Uzi Rebhun, John Ruskay, Adar Schiber, Noah Slepkov, Shalom Salomon Wald


Barry Geltman
Rami Tal

2020 Annual Assessment

COVID-19 Crisis

JPPI recommends that Jewish communities concentrate on four main priorities in determining their budgets as long as the COVID-19 crisis continues: 1. Ensure the appropriate resources are secured to sustain its main institutions as they recover from the crisis; 2. Prioritize assistance to the Jewish community’s most vulnerable members, individuals and groups; 3. Invest in innovations spurred by the crisis that also have potential for future growth, such as online activities, and participate on behalf of the Jewish community in assisting the general population (Tikkun Olam): 4. Explore utilizing community financial reserves and funds earmarked for emergencies and nurturing the younger generations in this time of crisis.


The international pandemic creates an opportunity to encourage Aliyah to Israel. In addition to economic considerations, Israel maintains Jewish quality of life when gathering in Jewish institutions is prohibited, and provides for Jewish expression in a space relatively protected from harassment by radicals exploiting the crisis for anti-Semitic incitement. Israel also has the opportunity to encourage the return of Israelis living abroad by assuring new economic and social avenues for re-acclimation.

Foreign Relations

Especially during the US presidential campaign, Israel should maintain a neutral position and avoid the appearance of support for one candidate or another. It is very important to maintain its good relationship with President Trump, but at the same time prepare for possible changes in American policy in the event of a Biden victory. The political polarization in the United States threatens bipartisan sympathy for Israel. Therefore, it is recommended that Israel be willing to engage in an open dialogue with the next administration, even if concerned about its positions on the important issues of Iran and the Palestinian arena.

Israel-China Relations

Tensions between the United States and China will likely continue for the foreseeable future and may even intensify in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Israel has a vital interest in expanding its flexibility and independence in its relations with the two powers. On one hand to further develop economic ties with China while, on the other hand, safeguarding its crucial and irreplaceable strategic relationship with the United States.

JPPI recommends that the Israeli government establish a strong center of China expertise under the auspices of the National Security Council. Its tasks should include: the formulation of a long-term strategy regarding Israel-China relations; bolstering mechanisms for overseeing foreign investment in Israel; include the Israel-China factor in the strategic dialogue with the US; and establishing a strategic dialogue with the Chinese government to deal with economic cooperation and geopolitical disputes.

Relevant Recommendations from Previous Years

  • Diaspora Jews should be encouraged to operate in the Asian continent in the fields of culture, art, academia and intellectual activity, with the aim of creating “soft power.”
  • The pragmatic policy of integrating the Haredim into the broader Israeli society should continue. Those Haredim who wish a form of integration must be allowed to maintain their unique identity in the IDF, national service, and the workforce. The Orthodox community, especially in the United States, should be encouraged to assume active roles in Jewish communal life and the general American society, and to increase their participation in politics and public service at the national level.
  • Declining fertility in most Diaspora Jewish communities has led to an increase in the relative demographic weight of older age groups. This trend requires monitoring and the allocation of additional community resources to provide services to this population as it gradually retires and turns to other interests to fill its newfound free time. Among other things, Jewish educational opportunities tailored to this age group should be designed and expanded as the benefits would cascade down to the younger generations.