Funding Dispute threatens Masa Programs

340 coming shortly on intern programs told not to come

Masa Israel Journey 2016-2017 gap year participants start an impromptu dance party in the lobby of Jerusalem’s ICC, in preparation for My Masa, Masa Israel’s annual welcome event, celebrated October 31, 2016. Photo by Ran Biran

Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon is reporting that the Prime Minister’s Office has stopped transferring funds to Masa due to “conflict of interests” with the Jewish Agency. The request was initated by the Office’s legal advisor.

The Jewish Agency, which funds Masa along with the Israeli government, also serves as a trip provider through its wholly owned Israel Experience subsidiary.

The agreement between the government and the Jewish Agency states that Israel Experience will not supply services to more than 20% of the program´s participants, as it is transferring money internally. According to Makor Rishon, the legal advisor has charged Israel Experience has exceeded this number.

Masa, founded in 2004, is a leader in creating long-lasting connections between young Diaspora Jews and Israel. An organization not without prior controversies, in recent years, Masa – under the current CEO and her team – has raised the bar operationally and tighened up requirements for participating programs.

While Masa has emphatically stated to eJP that the organization “is not in existential danger,” a short-term problem clearly exists. Adding, “we are confident that our partners will come to a solution soon so that no participant is left behind.’ (emphasis added)

This appears to conflict with a statement appearing today from CEO of Israel Experience Amos Hermon in The Jerusalem Post stating “his organization had to call up 340 participants who were registered to come to Israel for internships at the end of this month and in the coming months, and tell them it would no longer be possible.”

eJP reached out to Hermon for clarification. He has not responded as of publication.