Friday, December 15, 2017


Leave it to JFNA, the organization with the reverse Midas Touch, the gang that couldn't shoot straight, to screw up anything it touches. And, most recently, it's the recommendation of the potential successor to Natan Sharansky as Chair of the Executive of the Jewish Agency.

As first reported in the Jerusalem Post -- -- the 'short list" of "nominees" consisted of 6 men in various Israeli government positions or those who used to hold them. Commenting on the "candidates" in ejewishphilanthropy, Founder Dan Brown condemned the nominees for their age and their consequent irrelevance to the very communities worldwide that the Chair of the Executive would be called upon to rally in support of JAFI, Jewish Unity and Peoplehood. Dan's excellent piece -- -- is a must read as it also emphasized the reality that not a single woman leader appeared on the "list."

No women? The Jerusalem Post posed the question in  Therein: "It’s not that they should pick a chairwoman just for the sake of picking a woman. But not to have even one woman under consideration is simply insulting to half of world Jewry."

The Post reported:
"(Jewish) Agency board of governors chairman Michael Siegal, JFNA president Jerry Silverman and JFNA Israel and overseas vice-president Rebecca Caspi approved the names and asked Netanyahu for his nominee for the job."
Who appointed this threesome to act as an unauthorized Nominating Committee? Where was JFNA's, let alone the federations', lay representatives, where were UIA's leaders, in this non-process? Were were federation CEOs? I can think of few other examples of dysfunction that would further distance JAFI from the American Jewish communities than having Siegal, Silverman and Caspi serving as their representatives. 

Add to the list of questions: where did this short list come from? Who prepared it? Who submitted it?

Well, this "really short list" explains so much about how we've ended up with these non-representatives proffered to the Prime Minister. Back in the day I participated in the nomination process that led to the election of three Chairs of the Executive: Avrum Burg, Sallai Meridor and Natan Sharansky. In each of those nomination processes, most directly involved were Federation Executives, UJA and UIA (and, JFNA) lay and professional leaders, and leaders of UIA Canada and Keren Ha'Yesod -- compare and contrast with the three "leaders" who appear to have captured the non-process this time. 

And how serious was this "list" -- if it was vetted at all, wouldn't the serious allegations of corruption with regard to one prominent "candidate" have emerged and disqualified him; wouldn't the fact that another is in the midst of an investigation of those high up in his Ministry? But, no, these names were "sent on" as if fully vetted.

Again, where were the lay leaders of federation, UIA, KH, UIA Canada? Where were the professionals? Who agreed that our representatives would be JAFI's Siegal and the ever-weak Silverman and Caspi? Where was David Butler, the new Chair of JFNA-Israel? Where were Andy Groveman and David Koschitzky, the Chairs, respectively, of UIA and Keren Ha'Yesod? Where was the JFNA/UIA delegation to JAFI? The answer appears to be: nowhere.

In an insightful article last February, once again in ejewishphilanthropy, the difficulty of finding a transformational leader to succeed Natan was underscored.
There are some excellent names on this list -- MK Nachman Shai and Amb. Ron Prosor are compelling leaders who certainly know the Diaspora -- but, let's be candid here, the list appears to have come straight out of the PM's Office; and Siegal, Silverman and Caspi have proved to be ever so compliant with the Prime Minister's wishes. The process appeared on the surface to be:

   PM list > Silverman/Siegal/Caspi list > Prime Minister selects from his/their list

Through this circular process, Prime Minister Netanyahu will certainly get his "man." Following up ejewishphilanthropy's excellent work on the subject, Dan Brown authored Israel's UN Envoy, Corruption and Our Global Jewish Organizations --,+2017&utm_campaign=Wed+Nov+29&utm_medium=email -- an indictement and a demand for change. Dan challenged our leaders to produce a non-politician -- all evidence suggests that these same leaders are unable to lead us through any change whatsoever.



Anonymous said...

As long as JFNA is leading this it will not be with the Jewish Agency's best interests up front. The professional leadership there have other much more important items on their "global operations" agenda than strengthening the Jewish Agency. They want to build their own operational "agencies" and, more important, to ensure that there is no "rocking the boat" so that they can continue drawing their obscene salaries and benefits without attracting too much attention from their sleeping lay leadership, the apathetic LCEs (who also aren't interested in attracting too much attention) and the constituent Federation leaders who either don't understand or don't really care.

Anonymous said...

What do you mean by allegations of corruption against "only one serious candidate"?,7340,L-5056817,00.html

They are all tainted. And the reasons are that JAFI is an anachronism that serves as a bastion of cronyism and corruption for Likud and Shas. It should have been disbanded in May 1948 and key functions taken over by the State. It still should be shut down as its role as a suprational agency supporting Aliyah is long past.

I am a big advocate of international allocations, but I don't want a dime of my money going to a corrupt, politicized organization like JAFI

JAFI has no purpose today save to get allocations. Whether it be round-tripping money through a Jerusalem tax to supplement Hillel staffing, pretend to do security in Europe, or lost millions on a silly supermarker venture in Israel, they want to be all things to all people.

And has anyone reviewed all the self dealing in real estate by the JAFI pension plan which is the the nine-figure range?

Anonymous said...

As an addendum to the last comment, please note this 2015 article from the Israeli business press:

Israeli political parties used jobs in Zionist institutions as political plums for their members.

The secret agreement signed by political parties and movements to distribute jobs in Zionist institutions reached at last week's World Zionist Congress shows that the jobs were given out according to the relative strengths of each party. The Yesh Atid Party, headed by MK Yair Lapid, the only party that did not sign the agreement, yesterday demanded exposure of the deal at the Knesset Special Committee for the Transparency and Accessibility of Government Information, but committee chairman Stav Shafir rejected the demand, accusing Yesh Atid of cooperation in the transferal of hundreds of millions of shekels to the World Zionist Organization settlement division without transparency. Signers of the agreement include representatives of Likud, Zionist Union, Yisrael Beitenu, the Mizrahi movement (formerly the National Religious Party), Shas, and Kulanu, headed by Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon.

The copy of the agreement obtained by "Globes" shows that the Labor Party, together with Meretz, obtained the posts of Jewish National Fund (JNF) chairman (MK Daniel Atar was elected), head of the Zionist enterprises department in the Jewish Agency, and head of the education department, which is responsible for many activities of overseas emissaries and the budgets for the Reform and Conservative movements. Likud and Shas are keeping the posts of Jewish Agency chairman (occupied by Natan Sharansky), vice-chairman of the World Zionist Organization, and a list of positions in overseas public relations and the struggle against anti-Semitism.

The Mizrahi movement, together with Yisrael Beitenu and the National Union Party, received the positions of World Zionist Organization chairman, head of the settlement division (now the responsibility of Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Uri Ariel), JNF vice-chairman, the Diaspora Orthodox spiritual services apparatus, and the department for encouraging Aliya (immigration to Israel).


Zionist Union MK elected JNF chairman

Efi Stenzler
Political battle at Zionist Congress to head JNF

The agreement shows that Kulanu, which was taking part in these negotiations for the first time, was responsible for the election of former Minister and MK Uzi Landau as JNF co-chairman during the negotiations between the political parties. The agreement also includes a precise list of the jobs reserved for the parties. For example, Shas International is getting the vice-chairmanship of JNF, Likud International - vice-chairmanship of JNF responsible for the financial committee, Labor Party - chairmanship of the Spielberg archives, and Labor Party, Mizrahi, and Likud - directors in the JNF asset company.

The agreement contains a special clause for additional funding for the institutions' activity. This budget comes from JNF's income on the sale of its land by the Israel Land Authority. It was stipulated that by 2021, JNF would give the institutions NIS 69 million a year, and would add a further NIS 18 million a year when their spheres of activity are expanded, for example in order to pay for the events celebrating the 120th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on October 29, 2015

Anonymous said...

It seems that some folks are confusing the politically infested World Zionist Organization and KKL with the Jewish Agency. They are not the same thing.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to remind anon @ 3:30 that while the Jewish Agency is nowhere as bad as the WZO or KKL, WZO controls 50% of the Agency's Board of Governors. When they bother to show up, they're the kingmakers with the power to demand pretty much anything the want from the UIA contingency.

Anonymous said...

Not really. The WZO contingency includes some more constructive elements such as the religious streams from the Diaspora and the Diaspora Zionist momvements. At the end of the day, the WZO is not really in control.
Also, I believe that it is on JAFI lay leadership's agenda to free the Agency from this last obstacle to becoming a totally un-political philanthropic entity.

Anonymous said...

It may be on the agenda, but I'm under the impression the Knesset would need to sign off on that type of change. Can't get more political than that.

Anonymous said...

JAFI's lay leadership? The same ones investigating all the numerous examples of self dealing in real estate

Here is a link to one of the more recent episodes:

How did the employee pension fund agency real estate project worth hundreds of millions of shekels?
The fund promotes luxury housing program instead of a Milman, serves students from Tel Aviv ■ The Movement for Quality Government "method of concealment of assets unregulated" ■ Jewish Agency "was the property rights transfer agreement, on behalf of the employees 'pension promise'

Please stop being dinosaurs. The place is rampantly corrupt and inefficient.

And why is a non-governmental agency still required? It's time the useful functions were integrated into the government and the rest shut down.

Anonymous said...

Like him or not, Sharansky is a 100% political appointee of the head of the Likud Party. Most of his lieutenants are similarly Likud and Shas apparachniks. This is no different than KK"L or WZO.

Please learn to read Hebrew newspapers and know what everyone in Israel knows rather than repeating the bubbe Moises told at JFNA meetings

Anonymous said...

Simply not true! What political appointee lieutenants are you talking about? There are none in the Jewish Agency (not like WZO and KKL).

Anonymous said...

To anon 6:40 am

Please call an Israeli reporter. Try Blau at Haaretz perhaps. But don't rely on information in the English or from your local Federation.

The English articles are a pale reflection of the real news in Israel

Please read the first two-thirds of this article

It basically makes the case for shutting JAFI entirely. That is what you should all advocate for!