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 by a joint steering committee, headed by the director-general of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.”
Haaretz adds, “The money required to execute the plan would come from funds already raised by the Jewish National Fund.
Their outreach activities would include organizing information sessions and job fairs for potential immigrants and putting together brochures and other publicity material. An estimated 70 million shekels would be set aside for these activities, which would be spearheaded by the Immigrant Absorption Ministry. The money would also be used to cover the costs of additional staff as well as for office space in European cities where these organizations already have a presence.”
eJP has learned that internal Israeli politics are deeply involved in this decision. Several months back, the Yisrael Beiteinu controlled Ministry of Absorption was rebranded as the Ministry of Aliyah and Absorption, with no meaningful push-back from the Agency. Also, as many of our readers know, during the last several years the Agency’s very public focus has been on Identity, with aliyah taking a significantly less-visible role. With this new initiative currently focused on Ukraine, the new company is a clear win not only for the Ministry but for the Foreign Minister’s Yisrael Beiteinu party.
In conversations today with both Jewish Agency Board members and organizational professionals in the U.S. and on the ground in Europe, all questions revolve around “what does this mean for the Jewish Agency?”
When it comes to aliyah, the Government and The Jewish Agency have a long-standing covenant that the latter has sole global responsibility in this area. Even the highly publicized arrangement from several years ago with Nefesh B’Nefesh regarding aliyah from North America left the final approval of an individuals’ aliyah in The Jewish Agency’s hands.
It was pointed out by almost all that this announcement is nothing less than a major change to the status quo resulting in The Jewish Agency suffering a significant blow to its prestige.
This article was originally published on June 7, 2014 at 2:30 pm EDT and updated with additional information on June 8, 2014 at 1 pm EDT.