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June 13, 1986 - Image 87

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-06-13

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Agency away from the WZO. If you can-
not do that, you're not serious."
Jaffe insisted he is not attacking the
UJA, but "the campaign is not so holy
that it supersedes giving information to
people so that they can act better. People
have to know exactly what's happening so
that they can use themselves and their
clout in the most appropriate way.
"They send over $420 million a year to
Israel. It's less than one percent of Israel's
budget now, but still, it's a big chunk of
money," said the soft-spoken professor.
He disagrees with the assumption of
many that if people get complete informa-
tion about projects, including possible
needed improvements, they will give less.
"That is a paternalistic, talk-down ap-
proach to donors which I would never ac-
cept. I can argue with a donor . . . but in
order to have the discussion, he's got to
know what I know. I know the apparatus;
I know everything that goes on in the fe-
derations when they're into the frenzy of
raising money.
"Let's do it the best way we can. Let's
get the biggest men for the money. Let
them know we demand accountability," he
urged. "For me, these are holy principles."
In 1981, Jewish Agency fundraisers and
WZO functionaries met in intensive ses-
sions at Caesarea in Israel. They drew up
a program, which became known as the
Caesarea Process, for reform and restruc-
ture of the Jewish Agency. The process
lagged, however, when basic reforms sug-
gested to implement the program failed to
pass the Assembly of the Jewish Agency
because of disagreements between over-
seas fundraisers and Zionist and Israeli
"The Caesarea Process is completely
dead. It's not serious at all," charges Jaffe,
though Agency officials disagree sharply.
(See sidebar)
In his 24 years of social activism in
Israel, Jaffe has learned to use the system
when he can, skirt it when he finds it
necessary, and change it when he feels he
must. Early in his career he helped to

depoliticize Israel's social work union so
that merit, rather than political connec-
tions, became the basis for union elections.
While director of Jerusalem's Department
of Family and Community Services, his re-
organization gave social workers more
time to work with people instead of the
routine task of distributing welfare checks.
He has written a number of books on child
welfare, social action, urban renewal,
ethnic relations and philanthropy in Israel.
His hopes for reform of the Jewish
Agency were briefly raised when overseas
leaders, led by Baltimore's Jerrold Hoff-
berger, ousted Likud party loyalist
Raphael Kotlowitz from the chair of the
Jewish Agency Immigration and Absorp-
tion Department. When appointment of
Haim Aharon, Kotlowitz' successor, was
the result of purely political party con-
siderations, however, Jaffe decided only a
drastic reform of the Agency would
If the Jewish Agency cannot reform
itself, he said, then it might have to be dis-
mantled and an alternate apparatus set
up—possibly similar to the Carnegie Fund
or the Ford Foundation, "with no Israeli
political party control whatsoever."
Jaffe said that emotionalism surround-
ing the campaign on behalf of Ethiopian
Jews tended to sidetrack attempts to solve
Agency problems. Moreover, he criticized
the recent statement of the Agency's
Board of Governors requesting Agency
control of fundraising for Ethiopian Jews
coming to Israel. Jaffe complained that
the Ethiopian immigrants, as represented
by their "Landsmannschaft" organiza-
tions, are not involved enough in decisions
concerning their own future.
"They (the Jewish Agency) are coming
in at it again like the benevolent, patern-
alistic stuff that we did 30 years ago (with
the North African Jews). What I would
like to see the Jewish Agency do today is
sit down and say, 'What did we learn from
the North Africans?' Once they can spell
that out for us, they'll be able to say what
we should think about doing now and what

Continued on next page


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