The leading diaspora philanthropists on the Jewish Agency Board of Governors on Sunday night unanimously rejected the candidacy of Knesset member Haim Kaufman of Likud for the post of World Zionist Organization-Jewish Agency treasurer.
Kaufman, who already had received his party’s nomination, responded angrily Monday morning, complaining that the vote was “clearly a political move, not concerned with my full qualifications for the job.”
In another move, the philanthropists accepted the candidacies of two Labor Party contenders for the post of head of the WZO-Jewish Agency Aliyah Department: Uri Gordon and Uzi Narkiss.
The Labor Party voted last week to nominate Gordon, but the outcome of that vote was kept secret until the candidates were reviewed by the diaspora leaders.
Simcha Dinitz, chairman of the WZO-Jewish Agency Executive has come under strong pressure in recent days to fill various key WZO-Agency portfolios, an arduous task the World Zionist Congress failed to deal with as it broke up in discord early in December.
The posts are normally filled through elections during the congress, but the selections are subject to the “advice and consent” of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors.
Last November, the Board of Governors exercised that prerogative before-the-fact, rejecting another Labor candidate for the chairmanship that Dinitz eventually won.
Because Labor received that post, the Likud has been promised the treasurer’s post. Because of the philanthropists’ veto, it now must come up with another candidate. The diaspora leaders are said to prefer another member of Likud’s Herut wing, Knesset member Gideon Gadot.
Likud politicians are threatening that Herut will secede from the WZO-Jewish Agency Executive unless the party gets all the portfolios it is demanding. In addition to the treasury post, the party is insisting on the chairmanship of either the Aliyah or Youth Aliyah departments, as well as the co-chairmanship of the Settlements Department.
Meanwhile, Rabbi Richard Hirsch, the new chairman of the Zionist General Council, has warned Dinitz that not filling the vacant posts is becoming detrimental to the agency. The Zionist General Council is the WZO governing body between quadrennial Zionist congresses.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.