Israel’s national Zionist institutions, like the JNF and the WZO, survive because they are run by politicians who know how to be useful to other politicians.
The Knesset is full of young politicians, a generation unacquainted with the national Zionist institutions, which thinks they’re dusty and irrelevant old relics. Only the experienced operators are aware of the treasure that lies in them: unsupervised budgets, jobs for cronies and a direct link to the golden goose that is the Jewish Diaspora.
… Five years ago, following a prolonged struggle, the heads of the Jewish Federations of North America, which finance two-thirds of the Jewish Agency’s budget, succeeded in forcing the Agency to detach itself from the WZO, which had served as its board of directors with seats divided according to the relative strength of the Zionist parties in the Knesset. The Jewish Agency Chairman was also the head of the WZO, which symbolized to American members all that was corrupt and politicized; an obstacle to reform. Disconnecting the two organizations was their victory. Duvdevani’s appointment was seen as a consolation prize to the shrunken [National Religious Party]. He succeeded in tripling the WZO annual budget, replacing the $7 million it used to receive from the Jewish Agency with $20 million from the JNF, which had a clear interest in bankrolling the WZO… With the money, Duvdevani embarked on a wide range of programs across the Jewish world. He funded Zionist education projects, aliyah campaigns, anti-Semitism monitoring initiatives and more. These may have been the roles of other organizations, such as the Jewish Agency, but the Diaspora is wide and the Agency has been in retreat for years due to cutbacks and reorganization.
… Jewish Agency Chairman Nathan Sharansky, though once a renowned freedom fighter, is a failed politician.
… JNF tries to pretend it’s a major fund-raising operation in the Jewish world. In reality, its network of fund-raisers around the world bring in only a tiny portion of its income.
… The only reason the JNF still exists is that no politician is in a hurry to dismantle an organization that holds nearly 15 percent of the country’s land and a 4 billion-shekel ($11.6 billion) slush fund that it uses without supervision or standards [emphasis added].
For more, read the complete article The politics and money behind Israel’s Zionist bureaucracy.