Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has dropped hints that he and the Jewish Agency for Israel could be working on a plan to offer free or heavily subsidized trips to Israel for high school students from the Diaspora, according to The erusalem Post.
Nethanyahu, in addressing the board of governors of the Jewish Agency in Jeruslaem Tuesday, said that his government is prepared to partially fund trips that are in line with those given by Birthright Israel, which has sent some 200,000 non-Israeli Jewish young adults on free trips to Israel, and MASA, the Jewish Agency driven project that gives massive subsidies to thousands of non-Israeli post-college graduates to participate in extended stay programs in Israel.
He would like to see a program up and running withing five years.
Reports the Post:
Netanyahu vowed additional government funds for these initiatives. “I think that [achieving these goals] will require a real partnership between us… I’m prepared for that partnership and I’m prepared to invest in that partnership. They always ask prime ministers and presidents, ‘Are you willing to put your money where your mouth is?’ And the answer – I think we’ve shown it over the years – yes we are.”
Netanyahu did not offer any specifics on the government pledge, but offered praise for Israel-based Jewish identity programs as an answer to fading identification across the Jewish world, and also praised Israel’s funding of such programs.
“A lot of people were skeptical that these things would grow and develop,” he said of programs such as Birthright and Masa, “but I think they have, and I think they’ve made a profound difference. They’ve connected an entire generation of young Jews to Israel at time when there are so many forces that are working to disconnect them from Israel.” He promised to “participate with you” in expanding these programs.