The Jewish Agency and Nefesh B’Nefesh Continue to Squabble

from The Jerusalem Post:

‘Nefesh B’Nefesh delegitimizing non-US aliya’

The years of acrimony between the Jewish Agency and the private aliya group Nefesh B’Nefesh reached a climax this week with the leak of an e-mail in which Jewish Agency director-general Moshe Vigdor suggested ways to improve the agency’s image at Nefesh’s expense.

The e-mail, which was sent to department heads and senior officials in the agency, came in the wake of a study commissioned by Nefesh B’Nefesh claiming that American, Canadian and British olim who came to Israel with the organization represented a net gain to Israel’s economy of some NIS 1 billion between 2002 and 2008.

Agency officials were angered by the report, which failed to mention the agency’s role in bringing the olim, including its aliya emissaries in these countries and its participation in the funding of the olim.

In the e-mail, Vigdor praised Nefesh for being “far better than us at marketing,” and called the report, conducted by the Israeli branch of Deloitte Touche, “a brilliant move and exceptional manipulation.”

… Vigdor suggested that the Jewish Agency respond to the Nefesh “marketing” with some of its own: “Praise them and [thus create] awareness that aliya and olim are actually the Agency. We can do this with clever wordplay.”

Vigdor went on to suggest a similar strategy with the public relations campaign of Taglit-Birthright Israel: “We should have published congratulatory notices or something like that about Birthright…while mentioning in big letters: ‘The Jewish Agency is proud to be a partner in this project and of its financial support for it.’ That way, we can strengthen the perception among the public that [Birthright] belongs to us.”