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June 27, 1986 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-06-27

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Less well-known than either the UJA or
CJF is the United Israel Appeal (UIA) that
serves as the official channel for UJA and
other funds transmitted to the Agency.
The UIA is now emerging from a pro-
longed period on the sidelines as a passive
conduit, and is trying to respond to a new
demand among American Jewish leaders
for in-depth information and evaluation
about how the Agency is filling its as-
signed tasks. Until recently, the UIA con-
fined its role to monitoring Agency ex-
penses to ensure that they conformed with
IRS regulations for tax-exempt contribu-
tions. The broader function of providing
systematic information on the perform-
ance of Agency programs was not being
done by any of these bodies until quite
recently. And the studies that have ap-
peared so far tend to avoid revealing any
information that might upset the powers
that be in the Agency.)

ut just who are the "pow-
ers that be" in the Agency?
In theory, it is governed by
a "partnership" between
the Diaspora fund-raising
bodies and the WZO. But
in practice the political leaders and the par-
tisan interests they represent have a domi-
nant role in setting the Agency's priorities
and in its day-to-day operations, as we have
shown in this series.
Some Diaspora leaders who have become
aware of this fact have tried in recent years
— so far with limited success — to change
the power structure in the Agency so that
they can actually exercise the authority
that is theirs in theory. These efforts have
sparked clashes with their partners in the
WZO, exposing sensitive political nerves

Where Do All Our Dollars Go?


Friday, June 27, 1986


and philosophical differences over the
nature of the Jewish Agency. Is it a service
organization or a political body — or a
hybrid creature that attempts to combine
elements of both?
These differences came out in the open
at a meeting in 1984 of the Agency Assem-
bly, the constituent body of the Agency
charged among other things with deter-
mining its basic policies and goals. At that
time the federation leaders were thwarted
by the WZO in their attempt to introduce
some basic changes recommended by the
Governance Commission of the Caesarea
Process. They had to suffice with a
watered-down version acceptable to their
Zionist partners.
One of the basic aims of some of the
Diaspora leaders is to work towards depo-
liticization of the Agency by reshaping its
governing bodies along federation lines.
Policy-making would be firmly in the
hands of the Board of Governors, together
with thorough budgetary and professional
supervision of each department. The
Chairman of the Agency Executive would
have the powers of an American-style
"chief executive," allowing him to fire the
heads of the departments, who would be
clearly subordinate to him in the adminis-
trative hierarchy. The department heads
would be selected solely on the basis of
merit and expertise.
In this envisioned set-up, the key figure
in the Agency would be the Chairman of
the Board of Governors, while the Chair-
man of the Executive would be responsi-
ble to the board, in much the same way as
an executive director of a federation is
responsible to its board and lay president.
These ideas are upsetting to the Israeli
leaders of the Agency for a combination of

reasons, which are difficult to separate in
practice. These proposals would neutralize
the influence of the parties of the WZO in
Agency affairs, which is cause for alarm
from their perspective; but they also in-
troduce ideas which are alien to the Israeli
system of parliamentary democracy, on
which the institutions of the Agency are
partially modeled.
The present structure reflects Israeli
parliamentary practices that give a pre-
dominant policy-making role to the ex-
ecutive, which is composed of political
figures responsible for various depart-
ments and headed by a senior political
leader who is first among equals. The
politically-appointed department heads see
it as their right to put the ideological
stamp of their party on their departments'
activities and to use their positions to ad-
vance the interests of the party that put
them in office. A similar pattern holds in
the Israeli cabinet and in the WZO
The current chairman of the Agency Ex-
ecutive, Arye Leon Dulzin, does not even
seek the powers of a "chief executive" that
would enable him to fire the department
heads at will. Nor does he care to be
demoted to the status of a professional
hired by a lay board to direct a "super-
federation" called the Jewish Agency.
Dulzin is in fact caught in the middle of
the quandary created by the hybrid struc-
ture of the Agency that makes him subject
to different principles of accountability:
the Diaspora "lay leaders" on the Board of
Governors would like him to perform like
a non-partisan professional executive who
separates policy-making from administra-
tion. But the party representatives of the
WZO on the Baord expect him to maintain

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