Will Today Be Sharansky’s Day?

Today’s the day at the JAFI meetings. Votes on governance and, most likely, the first meeting of the newly constituted nominating committee. Despite this story from today’s Jerusalem Post, last night most of the American delegates were unconvinced the issues were settled. Yet, JPost implies one key American leader, Steve Hoffman, head of the Cleveland Jewish federation, will support Sharansky. If so, perhaps the wind is blowing Sharansky’s way – four years later.

Meanwhile, the UJC/UIA community will caucus in ninety minutes. It’s likely that meeting will set the tone for what will be.

US ‘reformers’ back Natan Sharansky

Two of the major backers of the Jewish Agency’s governance reform, which has been the subject of a row between the agency and the Israeli government, have taken a step toward assuring the government that its chief demand – the appointment of Natan Sharansky as agency chairman – is likely to pass.

“The prime minister has put forward an outstanding candidate who brings status and stature to the Jewish Agency,” Joe Kanfer, chairman of the board of trustees of the UJC, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday in an interview. “In recent conversations with us, Sharansky has displayed real understanding of the drama of connecting Diaspora Jewry and Israel.”

According to Steve Hoffman, head of the Cleveland Jewish federation, “our leadership believes everything Joe [Kanfer] said about Sharansky, and I think that’s shared by [the remaining groups who will vote on the appointment on Tuesday,] the World Zionist Organization and Keren Hayesod.”

Both refused to say outright that Sharansky would be appointed, believing the governance reform must pass before any nominee was formally considered, but they seemed to go out of their way to make assurances that Sharansky was the favored candidate. At one point, Kanfer even called the interview process of the nominating committee “pro forma.”

Two years in the making, the governance reform is likely to pass in the Tuesday gathering of the Jewish Agency Assembly, though it is opposed by Israeli political leaders.

“We’ve been working on governance reform for almost two years now,” said Hoffman. “The expectation has been built up that we’ll move it forward. Now it will be possible to have Sharansky [as chairman] under the best possible conditions.”

Israeli political sources responded to the overtures by noting there were still significant issues that placed Sharansky’s candidacy – the condition without which the Israeli government has said it would refuse to work with the agency – at risk.

and this from Haaretz:

PM, American donors working out JA compromise

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is working out a compromise with American donors to the Jewish Agency that will enable former minister Natan Sharansky to chair the organization and the approval of most of the reforms the donors want.