"You might say he runs an enlightened
dictatorship, with everything being clever-
ly orchestrated and everyone being
directed to take the right path."
A Diaspora leader echoed that senti-
ment: "I don't believe sufficient thought
has been put into the rational basis for
some of the changes that have been made.
"There have been too many across-the-
board cuts without a careful country-by-
country, community-by-community study
of needs. The result will be unnecessary
"The trouble is that Kaplan is an
autocrat and Dinitz simply follows along.
I don't think Dinitz realized what a terri-
ble financial mess he was inheriting at the
WZO or the extent to which the fund-
raisers were determined to hold on to the
purse strings at the Jewish Agency.
"Dinitz has certainly given the WZO a
new image," said the Diaspora leader. "He
is a statesman who can represent the move-
ment with dignity.
"But the question is whether we really
need another foreign minister who can
make impressive speeches or a real leader
who will tackle the serious decline in the
Zionist movement, prevent it from being
taken over by the Jewish Agency, and put
Kaplan in his place from time to time."
One issue that generated a good deal of
heat and frustration — and highlighted the
delegates' lack of involvement in the
decision-making process — was a decision
by the Jewish Agency Board of Governors
to transfer the task of absorbing new im-
migrants to the Ministry of Immigration
The plan which, among other things,
called for the closure of all the major ab-
sorption centers, drew a cry of outrage
from leaders of immigrant associations in
Israel who complained bitterly that they
had not been consulted adequately on an
issue that has far-reaching implications for
Fierce lobbying by the immigrant
associations — plus critical media atten-
tion — created some waves on the general-
ly calm surface of the Assembly. "People
were asking what they were doing here if
everything had been decided in advance,"
said a Jewish Agency source. "They
wanted the whole thing opened up for
In that event, delegate dissatisfaction
compelled the Board of Governors and the
Israeli Government to backtrack slightly
by agreeing to keep open three absorption
centers which had been slated for closure.
In another polite slap at their fast-
moving new leaders, Assembly delegates
refused to give blanket approval to the
Kaplan-Dinitz endorsement of the Israeli
Government's policy of direct flights to
Israel for Soviet emigres.
The delegates insisted on adding a rider
that called on the Soviet Union to recog-
nize the principle of "family reunification"
— in other words, the right of Soviet Jews
to be reunited with family members any-
where in the world, not just in Israel.
"This was a compromise that averted a
potentially explosive situation at the
Assembly and reflected the diversity of
Diaspora opinion on this issue," said a
"On the whole, people feel good about
what is happening in the Jewish Agency
and the WZO," he added. "But they wonder
he 1988 Jewish Agency Assembly
will be remembered for four major
resolutions, each of which marks
a radical departure from the past:
* The Jewish Agency will, over a two-
year period, hand over the basic func-
tions of immigrant absorption to the
Government of Israel. Freed of that
task, the Jewish Agency will concen-
trate on providing supplementary social
and financial services to new im-
migrants in close partnership with the
various immigrant associations.
* The Jewish Agency will, over the
next two years, implement an ambitious,
broad-based program of regional
development, meshing kibbutzim,
moshavim and development towns into
cohesive regional units which can tackle
the agricultural sector's financial prob-
lems, find international markets for
products and develop industry and
* Project Renewal, the Jewish Agen-
cy's highly successful urban rehabilita-
tion program will be further strength-
ened and expanded to coordinate and
improve physical renewal of neighbor-
hoods, along with a wide range of educa-
tion, vocational and social services.
* A central council will be set up
within the coming year to evaluate and
co-ordinate Jewish education programs
in Israel and the Diaspora funded by the
Jewish Agency and the WZO. The coun-
cil will have the authority to set policy,
monitor the effectiveness of educational
projects and demand accountability for
the $50 million that both organizations
spend on education. — Helen Davis.
MENDEL KAPLAN: Operator, mover, the power behind
SIMCHA DINITZ: Sharp, witty diplomat and politician.
"EVEN THE CRITICS OF
THE NEW LEADERSHIP.
WILL ADMIT THAT BOTH
KAPLAN AND DINITZ CAN
TAKE CRITICISM AND USE
THEY DON'T SHOUT
ANYONE DOWN AND THEY
DON'T BEAR GRUDGES."
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS 27