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May 30, 1986 - Image 17

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-05-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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17

Who Foots The Bill For The WZO?

This has meant that more UJA funds
have to be raised and allocated for the
work of the Agency, since part of the
total Keren Hayesod collections are
siphoned off for the WZO. This is only
one aspect of the indirect funding of the
WZO by the UJA.
In 1986/87, for example, the $381
million Agency budget (not including
Project Renewal) shows an expected
contribution from the UJA of about

$300 million and a contribution from
Keren Hayesod of $41 million. Another
$29 million in Keren Hayesod funds,
however, are earmarked for the WZO.
The other aspect of indirect funding
concerns the source of the government
funds that go to the WZO. Under an in-
formal arrangement worked out in the
early 1970s by the Diaspora leaders and
the leaders of the WZO, it was agreed
that part of the funds allocated by the
Agency under the heading of "higher
education" (i.e., support for Israel's
universities) would in effect provide the
government's share of funds for the
WZO.
This procedure works as follows: For
1986/87, the Agency budget shows $44
million allocated for support of higher
education in Israel. The higher educa-
tion budget prepared by the govern-
ment for this fiscal year notes that some
65 per cent of the income of the univer-
sities will come from government and
Agency funds, with the remainder corn-
ing from tuition payments; donations
from abroad through the various
"friends" organizations of the univer-
sities and other sources.
During the course of the year, some
of the money tht the government was
supposed to have paid to the univer-
sities is provided instead by the Agen-

communities by different departments,
with little or no coordination between
them. What is worse, the shlichim, who
feel they have to represent their depart-
mental interests, sometimes duplicate
each other's work and even compete with
each other for influence and recruits in the
local community. A major example of this
cited by the report is the existence of the
two education departments, one Orthodox
and the other "general." Since Jewish
education in the Diaspora is usually
religious, both compete for footholds in the
same communities and schools and both
put out similar materials for use by their
prospective clients. In the U.S., they have
separate national offices on the same floor
at 515 Park Avenue.
In other cases, shlichim representing dif-
ferent departments come to the same
bodies in their local community, offering
essentially the same programs aimed at
the same groups — university students for
example —but with different prices or con-
ditions that are hard to justify or explain.
Furthermore, the report noted, most
shlichut positions have no systematic job
definitions — although there are some im-

portant exceptions in this regard — and
the departments dispatch their personnel
without any annual work plan, and with
few opportunities for new shlichim to work
for a short time with their predecessors to
learn the ropes. This means that many
shlichim have to learn their vaguely de-
fined jobs virtually from scratch, which
may take them the better part of a year.
The geographical or organizational deploy-
ment patterns of shlichim (the "shlihut
map") is often distorted, with some groups
or communities having many shlichim and
others getting few or none, and for no
apparent reason.
The selection process for shlichim,
though it has improved in the last 10
years, can still be subject to political
pressures. There are many cases, particu-
larly among the aliya and youth move-
ment shlichim, where the sponsoring
department insists that a candidate "must
go" for personal or political reasons, even
though he or she is not qualified. Even
those not selected on political grounds can
be forced to play the role of political
"errand boy" for the department heads of
other senior officials, in order to avoid

Who really foots the bill for the WZO?
The official answer — that it is the
Israeli government and Keren Hayesod
that fund the World Zionist Organiza-
tion — conceals a complex system
whereby funds raised by the UJA in-
directly pay most of the bill for the
WZO.
When the Jewish Agency was formal-
ly separated from the WZO, the latter
was left virtually without an independ-
ent source of funds. It was agreed then
that funds raised in Keren Hayesod
countries where no tax regulations
restricting the uses of contributions
were in force — and where no tax
exemptions were granted, either —
would provide part of the funds for the
educational and political work of the
WZO, and for its promotion of aliya in
free countries.

cy. This frees the previously earmark-
ed government funds for other purposes
— and by agreement some of these
funds go to support the WZO. For
1986/87, the $59 million WZO budget is
provided by Keren Hayesod ($29 mil-
lion) and the government ($30 million).
Thus, part of the $44 million budgeted
by the Agency for higher education
finds its way eventually to the WZO.
(The details of this arrangement have
been explained and confirmed by
several key figures in the Agency, none
of whom, however, would agree to be
quoted.)
The WZO benefits from this arrange-
ment by not having to account to either
the Keren Hayesod or the UJA for how
it uses these funds. The Agency, by con-
trast, is expected to be fully accoun-
table to these two fund-raising bodies.
The government benefits too, since its
funds for the WZO are not allocated
through regular channels, and it is thus
freed from the "nuisance" of having to
account to the Knesset and to the State
Comptroller for how the WZO spends
the money. The WZO's own internal
system of accountability is so weak that
in the final analysis the parties that con-
trol the WZO and its departments have
virtually a free hand to spend the
money any way they choose.

displeasing those who control their
budgets and who can terminate their jobs
at will.
uring the hearings con-
ducted by the Landau
Commission, the Ameri-
can Zionist leaders on the
WZO Executive presented
a critique of the system
from their perspective at
515 Park Avenue. Complaints about
shlichim in the American Jewish communi-
ty have for years been aimed at them, even
though they did not have enough clout in
the WZO to do anything about it. The
main points of their criticism and recom-
mendations are:
* There are too many shlichim based at
515 Park Avenue, many doing routine
clerical work, and more should be out in
the field.
* Since the total cost of each shaliach is
so high, there is no reason why well-quali-
fied local personnel could not do some of
their jobs equally effectively and at less
cost.
* Most of the shlichim are not sufficient-
ly fluent in English when they arrive, and

Part Two

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