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policies and priorities of the Agency have
been subordinated to partisan political in-
terests rooted in the World Zionist Organiza-
tion (WZO), Diaspora Jewry's "partner" in
running the Agency.
This series will explore five aspects of the
Agency and its relations with the WZO that
have lately been of particular concern to
Jewish leaders around the world:
1. Is Youth Aliya still relevant to the needs
of Israel's disadvantaged youth?
2. Is the WZO capable of delivering the
message of Israel and Zionism to world
3. Are Jewish education and aliya too im-
portant for all Jews to be left in the hands
of the "Zionists?"
4. Can the Reform and Conservative
movements strengthen their foothold in
Israel through the Agency and WZO?
5. What have diaspora Jewish leaders been
doing to improve the Jewish Agency?
Charles Hoffman is a veteran reporter for the
Jerusalem Post who has written frequently on the
Jewish Agency and Israel-Diaspora relations.
hat does the Jewish Agency
do with the hundreds of
millions of dollars it re-
ceives each year from Dias-
pora Jewry? Officials say
that the Agency meets certain social and
educational needs in Israel that the gov-
ernment cannot afford to provide. But .
some of these needs are rarely re-examined,
and Jewish Agency programs can run on
for years without anyone questioning
whether the original needs are still as
pressing, or if earlier solutions are still
A case in point is Youth Aliya, one of the
four main Agency departments, which has
been allocated $52 million — out of a total
Agency budget of $429 million — for the
1986-87 fiscal year.
Youth Aliya has for more than 50 years
amassed a distinguished record in the res-
cue and rehabilitation of Jewish youth
through a unique program of residential
education. Since it began in 1934, it has
brought 170,000 children to Israel and
cared for them and young people from 80
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nations. A wide array of educational and
social services are provided for youth in
distress, from immigrants such as the
Ethiopians rescued in Operation Moses, to
Israeli-born youth with severe learning
problems. Over 16,000 wards are receiving
schooling, vocational training and agricul-
tural education in 246 "youth villages" and
institutions; 2,500 others attend day care
centers. In recent years the department
has broadened its role by setting up high-
school study programs for Diaspora youth
from western countries.
This is the image of Youth Aliya pro-
jected by fund-raising campaigns abroad
and the hundreds of UJA missions that
visit Israel each year. It is an accurate
image as far as it goes, but it is not the
Indeed, the fund-raising hype and the
stage-managed missions tend to hide the
facts that the department's main program
is increasingly regarded as obsolete and
that political pressures have converted
Youth Aliya into one of Israel's main
sources of funds for anti-Zionist yeshivas.
Art By Giora Carmi