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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Jewish Agency and immigration to Israel

Headline: PM: Jewish Agency still has key role in bringing Jews to Israel
OK - so let them bring Jews. What is it all about? Like everything else that is not about sex, it is about money and power. Groups like Nefesh benefesh and Nativ have succeeded in bringing many more Jews to Israel than the Jewish Agency, whose functionaries have not functioned very well in about forty years.

The Jewish Agency workers protested:

Following the decision, the Agency's workers union held a stormy meeting that resulted in a letter to Olmert accusing him of "breaking the old agreement between the Jewish Agency and the government of Israel over exclusivity in encouraging Aliyah and belittling the Agency's experience and its emissaries whose enormous efforts brought three million people from over the world to Israel."
The problem is that many of these people came to Israel in spite of the Jewish Agency rather than because of it.
Horrible regimes in Arab countries, as well as Nazi and Polish persecution, are among the factors whose "enormous efforts" brought those three million Jews to Israel. Nearly every immigrant has a tale of woe connected with the Jewish agency and its functionaries. Groups that were established to bring immigrants rather than to be the Jewish Agency have done much better in bringing immigrants from places like the North America, where nobody is chasing Jews out. Consequently, the government has made allocations of funds to these groups permanent. The Jewish agency meanwhile, has not been contributing its promised share to Nefesh benefesh, causing budgetary shortfalls.

A few modest suggestions -

1, The available funds should be allocated among the organizations in proportion to the number of immigrants they have brought to Israel, and the number they undertake to bring in the coming years.

2. A small number of jobs in these organizations - on the Israeli side - should be allocated to new immigrants. "Oleh mevi Olim" - an immigrant brings immigrants.

3. A special agency should be set up to bring back some of the estimated 800,000 Israelis living in North America.

4. The government should undertake to examine the reasons why Israelis leave, and to show yearly progress in stopping the "brain drain" of trained Israelis to North America and Europe.

Ami Isseroff

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