The JAFI Debate: All Talk and Now Action

A little over two hours from now the Jewish Agency Assembly will open – followed on Tuesday by the Board of Governors meetings. The Assembly program, which is generally a PR fest focusing on JAFI programs and accomplishments, is likely to be overshadowed by the still unclear outcome of the proposed governance reforms and Natan Sharansky’s candidacy for Chair of the Executive. Even former chair MK Zeev Bielski is back in the act – calling on the Prime Minister to reconsider and attend Tuesday mornings session.

Here’s a snapshot of the latest from this morning’s papers.

from Haaretz:

It’s time to restructure the Jewish Agency

The Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors will meet this month in Jerusalem as the organization faces three fundamental issues: its 80th birthday, the upcoming election of the new chairman and the reverberations throughout the Jewish philanthropic world of the global economic crisis and fraud cases that have wreaked havoc on Jewish funding. Now is the time to rethink the Jewish Agency’s mission, reason d’etre and modus operandi.

both from The Jerusalem Post:

Sharansky looks set to become JA head

The appointment of Natan Sharansky as chairman of the Jewish Agency seems to be solidifying ahead of the organization’s assembly this week, where it will come up for a final vote.

Analysis: Saving Jewish Agency will take compromise

The American-led reform of the Jewish Agency may have its merits, but transparency is not one of them.

While the Americans, including Board of Governors chairman Richie Pearlstone, are correct in noting that the reform has been under way for 2.5 years, this process took place within the notoriously political and opaque institutions of the agency itself. In an organization whose politicking is as often personal as it is ideological, and where the American funders hold many of the purse strings, does that really constitute public debate?

Despite a dozen attempts by The Jerusalem Post in recent days to reach American architects and backers of the reform, it has been nearly impossible to get anyone to speak on record or in a deep way on the issue.