Standoff in Jerusalem

Bibi is busy playing poker. Now that he has, at least temporarily, pushed his problems with Obama off to the side, he had his Cheerios for breakfast and is tackling head-on the American fundraiser community and their relationship with the Jewish Agency.

What did he do?

In an unprecedented move in Israel’s history, the Prime Minister has canceled his appearance at next week’s Jewish Agency meeting.

Officially, he will be in Europe for ‘consultations’ with foreign leaders. Don’t for a minute believe it. His back is against the wall with the Sharansky nomination; he considers it a personal affront the Americans will not accept Sharansky as JAFI CEO and he’s doing whatever he can to turn the tables.

So, we have multiple stand-offs. Likud vs. Kadima. Bibi vs. the Diaspora fundraising community. Powerful U.S. Federation leaders on both sides of the equation. Delegates of the Reform movement say they’ll boycott the meetings; of the Conservative movement – well, they’ll accept hollow promises. The Keren Hayesod delegates? Apparently no-one is sure how they will vote. Same goes for Hadassah.

The story changes by the hour. As of this writing, Rabbi Dick Hirsch, chair of WZO’s Zionist Council, is trying to mediate a solution acceptable to all. We expect the ZGC to postpone adjournment on Friday morning [with no vote] and reconvene on Tuesday, based on what happens at the JAFI meetings. If you’re a betting person, I suggest you don’t.

If you’re trying to follow what’s happening, this is movement that will hint at a solution, or lack of one:

  • Kadima agrees to accept the powerful position of head of the Jewish National Fund for their party in return for support on Sharansky.
  • The three most vocal heads of U.S. Federations speak on the same page.
  • An agreement is reached to not vote on the governance issues and/or table the CEO vote until June 2010.
  • Bibi does or does not actually depart Israel prior to Tuesday morning.

This is an oversimplification of where things currently stand. They actually may change by the time you read this – it’s one of those days. And, if you’re a fly on the wall of the hotel corridors, you’ll be better tuned in then anyone!