As Gov’t Diaspora Initiative Moves Forward, Politics at the Forefront

With rockets targeting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv this evening the latest ceasefire is already a joke. So too is the relationship between the principal players in the World Jewry Joint Initiative (ofter referred to as the Prime Minister's Initiative (PMI) on this site and elsewhere). Let's back up to an abbreviated history. Last July, eJP broke the story on the planning for this ground-breaking project. The PMI was pegged as a $300 million a year program and made headlines around Israel and the Jewish world. At that point in time, The Jewish Agency (JAFI) had been working with the Prime Minister’s Office on the project for almost a year. In November of last year, a Summit was held in Jerusalem bringing together over a  hundred representatives of Jewish communities worldwide, including The Agency's … [Read more...]

The Jewish Agency Appears Marginalized in Aliyah

The Jerusalem Post has obtained a draft copy of the proposed new aliyah initiative. This according to a just published article in the paper. The draft appears to confirm a number of items previously published in the media, organizational denials non-withstanding, including: The establishment of a new corporation to be owned jointly by the four “national institutions, ” Keren Hayesod, KKL-JNF, The Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization. The initiative would initially be funded by a grant from KKL-JNF for 100 million shekel. But the bombshell, now clearly spelled out by the JPost article, is: "Under the plan, the Ministry of Aliya and Immigrant Absorption would [have] four seats on an eight person steering committee that would oversee the new corporation. The Director General of the … [Read more...]

Gov’t Establishes Independent Company for European Aliyah

In an unprecedented move, the Government of Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption have established an independent company to encourage aliyah from Europe. The company will initially be funded with NIS 100 million. According to YNet, "After 66 years in which the issue of immigration was handled by the Jewish Agency and other bodies, the government decided to take matters into its own hands and establish an independent company to encourage aliyah. The company will not have the same restrictions applied to government-owned corporations, and it will be able to operate freely in European countries. The company will include representatives from various national institutions (KKL-JNF, the Jewish Agency and the [World] Zionist Organization) and will be subject to terms set forth … [Read more...]

The Jewish Agency, the Claims Conference and Transparency

Most of our readers are likely familiar with the $57 million fraud perpetuated on the Claims Conference and the subsequent combination of plea bargains and guilty verdicts handed down in U.S. courts. Many also know that two Claims Conference Board members, Natan Sharansky and Ronald Lauder, have been outspoken in their call for an independent probe to investigate allegations against senior executives (and board members) of the Claims Conference. In Sharansky's case, this was particularly courageous, as The Jewish Agency was the recipient in 2012 of $1.5 million in allocations from the Claims Conference and the estimate for 2013 is allocations totaling $1.7 million. As we all know, antagonizing a donor is not the best way to secure future funding. The problem though, is both of these … [Read more...]

Breaking: The Jewish Agency to Supervise Proposed Egalitarian Kotel Section

Kotel

eJP has learned that the proposal for an egalitarian/pluralistic area of the Kotel will include supervision by The Jewish Agency, a quasi-government organization headquartered in Jerusalem. This previously unreported news was apparently discussed at a meeting earlier this week in New York where Natan Sharansky briefed members of the various North American streams. If correct it represents a significant addition to the mission of the organization. … [Read more...]

The Jewish Agency Plays Local Politics in Kiev

The Jewish Agency for Israel (The Agency) is a storied organization with a long history of assisting building the Jewish State. Today, with aliyah mostly an aliyah by choice, The Agency is trying to reinvent itself by focusing significant resources around Jewish Identity. While the "jury is still out" on the success of the latest strategic plan, the organization gets credit for moving forward, sharpening its focus and trimming [a meaningful amount of] excess fat. Governance of The Agency is complicated. The Board consists of a mix of organizational CEO's, wealthy donors, committed lay professionals and political hacks. In practice, despite denials, the Chair of the Executive serves at the pleasure of the Prime Minister. Every faction has their own agenda and only a small minority are truly … [Read more...]

Jewish Agency Holds ‘Town Hall’ Conversation on Women’s Kotel Prayer Services

A town hall style conversation was held yesterday at The Jewish Agency's Board of Governor’s Committee of the Unity of the Jewish People. The open session was called for the express purpose of gathering information to assist Natan Sharansky in his task of formulating new recommendations concerning prayer at the Kotel that will be presented to the Prime Minister. All present expressed a desire to resolve the current tensions and simultaneously provide respect for all who choose to worship at the Kotel. The approximately two dozen speakers hailed from across the religious streams and the world (including several Israelis). They mostly echoed similar themes, first and foremost that the Kotel belongs to all Jews. Several speakers tied the Kotel monopoly by the ultra-Orthodox to the broader issue … [Read more...]

Returning to Its Roots, OTZMA to be Transferred to Israel Experience

At the conclusion of this year's program, OTZMA is slated to become a program of the Israel Experience Educational Tourism Services Ltd., a subsidiary of The Jewish Agency for Israel, in a way returning the program to its early roots. Project OTZMA, founded 27 years ago, was originally a joint program of the Israel Forum and the UJA (North America) in cooperation with the Jewish Agency's Department for Jewish Zionist Education. Over the decades the OTZMA program itself has gone through changes; UJA became a part of Jewish Federations of North America, and roughly three years ago - in a cost-cutting move - The Jewish Agency moved away from direct program support. On November 1, 2011, Jerry Silverman - JFNA's CEO - announced the conclusion of OTZMA. Neither at that time, nor at any time since, … [Read more...]