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February 18, 1994 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-02-18

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

AS

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Dinitz Steps Down
After Indictment

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i' AMERICAN

SOCIETY
GINCER.

Jerusalem (JTA) — Closing
a difficult chapter for the
Jewish Agency for Israel,
Simcha Dinitz has announc-
ed he will step down as
chairman following a deci-
sion this week by Israel's At-
torney General to indict Mr.
Dinitz on charges relating to
his alleged misuse of Agency
credit cards.
The leave of absence was
in accordance to an agree-
ment made last summer
with Mendel Kaplan, chair-
man of the Agency's Board
of Governors. That agree-
ment had capped months of
speculation about Mr.
Dinitz's future at the Agen-
cy after allegations of
misconduct first surfaced.
The decision to indict Mr.
Dinitz on charges of ag-
gravated fraud and abuse of
public trust was announced
two days before the Agency's
Board of Governors was to
begin a week-long meeting
in which the Dinitz affair
and how to handle the
vacancy will doubtless top
the agenda and spur heated
political wrangling.
"Anything can happen,"
one senior Agency official
quipped before the meeting.
Meanwhile, reaction from
Agency officials appeared to
be a mix of regret for Mr.
Dinitz and relief that there
was some resolution of a
long ordeal.
Mr. Kaplan called the at-
torney general's decision "a
great personal tragedy for
Simcha Dinitz and his fami-
ly.
Though Mr. Kaplan insists
that the "cash flow has
never been better," it is
clear the affair has tainted
the Agency's image.
The Jewish Agency, which
is the primary recipient of
United Jewish Appeal funds
raised for Israel, is the
largest single recipient of
American Jewish philan-
thropy.
It is also the embodiment
of political Zionism, the
Diaspora community's link
to the nation-building enter-
prises largely undertaken
now by the Israeli govern-
ment.
In Israel, the Jewish
Agency is considered a
quasi- governmental body.
Its salaries are pegged to
those of Cabinet officials, its
actions are coordinated with
the state and its leaders
come from the ranks of the
Israeli political parties in

proportion to their strength
in the World Zionist Con-
gress.
Mr. Kaplan conceded the
Diaspora community has
been frustrated with the
slow pace of the case.
"What they'd like to see
now is a definite decision as
to permanent leadership in
the Agency," he said.
"That's what they expect
from us."
The controversy surroun-
ding what has come to be
known here as the Dinitz Af-
fair began with reports at

Simcha Dinitz:
Future is uncertain.

the end of 1992 that Mr.
Dinitz had misused the Jew-
ish Agency's credit cards.
Mr. Dinitz has admitted
making personal purchases
on the cards and not repay-
ing $13,793 worth of charges
until the bills were brought
to his attention in December
1992.
During the summer of
1993, a police investigation
was launched into Mr.
Dinitz's activities. The in-
vestigation ended in late
August, but police officials
at the time would not
disclose whether they had
recommended that state
prosecutors press ahead with
an indictment against Mr.
Dinitz.
The case was subSequently
turned over to the attorney
general, who had the
responsibility of determin-
ing whether charges should
be pressed against Mr.
Dinitz.
Mr. Kaplan has called on
Agency Treasurer Hanan
Ben-Yehuda to preside over
meetings of the executive in
the absence of the chairman,
as stipulated in the agency's
bylaws.
Mr. Ben-Yehuda will con-

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