The Intersection of Politics and Donors in Israel

As Israel begins to gear up for the next elections, we once again see the arrival of foreign money in the coffers of local politicians. This is nothing new; former prime ministers Barak and Olmert, and current Prime Minister Netanyahu are masters of the game. With next week’s election for a new head of Israel’s Labor party, we notice that MK Isaac Herzog is the newest entrant in the field.

Herzog has received donations from, among others, Mick Davis (chair of UJIA in the U.K.), Randall Kaplan (chair of Hillel International and husband of JFNA board chair Kathy Manning), Edith Everett (NYC philanthropist and significant supporter of the Everett Comprehensive School in Hatzor in Israel’s Galilee), Sir Trevor Chinn (U.K. philanthropist) and S. Daniel Abraham (of Slim-Fast fame).

Not to be left out, former Labor chairman/former Haifa mayor Amram Mitzna has apparently leveraged his relationships in Boston (Haifa’s Partnership city) from where he received a number of contributions.

Moving over to the global world, Alexander Mashkevitch, a businessman with major holdings in Kazakhstan, has given in to his business “partners” and is walking away from Jewish world involvement. Mashkevitch provides approximately $3 million in support annually to the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress – support which will end on November 1st of this year. It seems Mashkevitch, whose fortunes are tied to various natural resources (including mining operations in Eastern Europe) was “told” by these partners he needed to back away from his Jewish and Israeli world support, or find new partners. The billionaire blinked, and now EAJC has a big, still unfilled hole. We are guessing this also means the demise of Mashkevitch’s plan to launch an international Jewish information and news network version of Al-Jazeera.

And lastly, we hear that many donor organizations to global Jewish causes – including to the Jewish Agency and JDC – have told their respective partners they expect to raise less money in 2012 and therefore less dollars will be available. As at least one organization considers the impact, we understand there are “no sacred cows; everything is on the table”.