JERUSALEM (Feb. 22)
The standoff between the “Zionist” and “fund-raiser” factions of the Jewish Agency for Israel continues, despite efforts by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to intervene.
In a meeting last week, Rabin asked the top fund-raisers to drop their demands that two posts in the quasi-governmental body be eliminated to avoid duplication.
His request was refused by Mendel Kaplan, chairman of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors, and Max Fisher, its founding chairman.
Instead, in a compromise announced Sunday that promises to keep the controversy simmering, Rabin will study the issue and recommend a solution after Passover.
This was agreed upon by a six-member committee of top leaders of the two sides. Both sides are represented equally on the committee, explaining the deadlock.
A similar situation prevails in the Jewish Agency as a whole, where the leadership and governance is split evenly between representatives of the World Zionist Organization — made up of Diaspora Zionist groups, such as Hadassah, and Israeli political activists — and representatives of the United Jewish Appeal and similar fund-raising bodies around the world.
The Zionists have charged that the effort to eliminate the department heads reflects the desire of the fund-raisers to “de-Zionize” the Jewish Agency and assume full control.
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres weighed in earlier this month on behalf of the Zionists, issuing a sharply worded attack on the fundraisers.
While the fund-raisers refused to heed the requests from Rabin and Peres to drop their demand to eliminate the department heads, their willingness to let Rabin find a solution could reflect a desire to quietly retreat.
It was hoped in Jewish Agency circles that their decision would enable the Board of Governors session taking place here in Jerusalem this week to proceed with other matters, without being overshadowed by this acrimonious dispute.
In a statement issued by the committee of six, they spoke of progress on four other structural issues: the size and structure of the Board of Governors, the budget of the World Zionist Organization, the committees of the Board of Governors, and the “advise and consent” process by which the fund-raisers approve or veto candidates for Jewish Agency posts put forward by the Zionists.