So I admit to being bemused and confused at the proliferation of those who would posture themselves as "alternatives" to the Jewish Agency -- the "competition" if you will. Let's visit with them:
- The Government of Israel, Ministry of the Diaspora -- and no better place to start than with this piece of...business: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_BxsN3t7vw Yes, Naftali Bennett, a Minister of the Government of Israel, positions the GOI as not just an entity whose work would parallel that of JAFI, but as an entity performing identical functions. And, of course, the GOI, doing nothing but issuing well done on-line videos, has also engaged in sewing just this type of confusion for almost one year since torpedoing the JAFI plan for a JAFI-GOI-World Jewry Initiative.
- The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews a/k/a Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein --whether out of jealousy, rage or ego, Eckstein has made clear that, not having received what he perceived as the kavod and recognition due him for the Christian allocations made to JAFI, he will engage in "competition" with the Agency (or by another description, a policy of "scorched earth") by redundant efforts in aliyah, serving impoverished Israeli Jews and other areas. In a recent article extolling the Fellowship's work, Eckstein is quoted: "“We just want to get the job done,” he said. “Our purpose is to increase aliyah."read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.727811 (It has been rumored that when one of his senior professionals charged with Eckstein's aliyah suggested working in cooperation with the Agency that responsible professional was fired.)
- The World Zionist Organization -- today, this once minor organization claims to be "Connecting Israel and the Jewish People." It is an entity, like Eckstein's, so totally opaque as to be impenetrable. The WZO has an Executive, an "Expanded Executive," a "Council" -- it even has a "Supreme Court." It's actions play right into the hands of those who opine that the concept of "Zionism" is "too controversial."
If these be "competitors," the Jewish Agency has lucked out -- for each of these "competitive" efforts is badly flawed -- politicized, or non-Jewish or unrepresentative. None brings together the totality of world Jewish leadership as does JAFI; none have programs with the reach of those of the Jewish Agency. But the Agency's "luck," if that's what it is, if JAFI fails the tests of inclusiveness and transparency -- concepts with which it appears to be continually unfamiliar.
One similarity among all -- JA, the GOI, IFCJ and WZO -- is the sense and the reality of being an insiders'/inside game. JAFI would appear to have the easiest time opening up to a true lay-professional partnership; yet, from efforts by many to cause JAFI to do so, it is evident that JAFI "ain't ready for reform." As one correspondent to this Blog has observed, it and its most fervent supporters operate out of a sense of "entitlement" -- mostly to ther financial support it demands but is no longer receiving.
My continuing sense is that a transparent and responsive JAFI will gain ever greater support. Maybe someday that organization's leaders, like those of JFNA, will awaken.