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Plan to Reform Diaspora Education Still Alive, Despite WZO Opposition

A plan to reform Diaspora Jewish education programs was rescued from possible defeat Thursday by Diaspora leaders, who mustered a large majority for it in the final session of the Jewish Agency Assembly.

The plan calls for the establishment of a Jewish Education Authority, run jointly by Israeli and Diaspora leaders. The authority is supposed to consolidate and streamline the Jewish education programs for the Diaspora now run by the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization, which spend about $50 million each year in this area.

It appeared earlier this week that the plan was doomed, after it was narrowly rejected by the WZO General Council. Since the Jewish Agency is run jointly by the WZO and Diaspora leaders, the WZO vote was seen by some as a veto of the plan.

The Diaspora community and fund-raising leaders, however, were determined to push the plan through, despite WZO opposition.

For years, Diaspora leaders have resented the fact that while the WZO is funded by their contributions, they have very little say in how the WZO runs its educational programs, which are supposed to serve Diaspora youth.

The Jewish Agency Assembly, which has 398 members, passed a resolution giving agency and WZO leaders one more chance to iron out their differences over the plan. It called for a revised plan to be presented to the Jewish Agency Board of Governors in October.

The resolution says that if agreement is not reached by that time, each of the partners in the Jewish Agency “may consider such action as they deem appropriate with respect to Jewish education.”

This is seen as a threat that if the WZO continues to resist reform, then the Jewish Agency will set up its own Jewish education department and stop funding WZO programs.

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