Most Israelis on Hadassah board resign

Dispute over D-G Mor-Yosef's continued tenure not resolved.

February 26, 2010 12:37
3 minute read.
Professor Shlomo Mor-Yosef

mor yosef 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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All but one of the Israeli members of the Hadassah Medical Organization board of directors have resigned over its decision last month not to renew the contract of HMO director-general Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef beyond the end of 2010. This decision is being maintained at the insistence of its owner, the Hadassah Women's Zionist Organization of America and its national president Nancy Falchuk, despite Mor-Yosef's formal statement earlier this week that he would be willing to stay on for another two years.

The 15-member board comprises 10 Americans and five Israelis. In January, Eitan Raff (chairman of the board of Bank Leumi) resigned from the HMO board over the Mor-Yosef issue. On Thursday night, three of the remaining Israelis followed. They are board chairman Yossi Nitzani, distinguished Weizmann Institute of Science scientist Prof. Ruth Arnon and Avner Naveh, a former senior Israel Air Force officer. The only Israeli member to remain was former Israeli ambassador to the US, Zalman Shoval.

In a letter to Falchuk, the three newly resigned members wrote: "After a great deal of soul searching and numerous attempts to influence the board of directors to consider anew the decision not to continue the directorship of Prof. Mor-Yosef after the current contract at the end of 2010, we ... wish to make very clear that both HWZOA and HMO are dear to our hearts... Nevertheless, recently we have faced time and again a large measure of lack of faith on the part of HWZOA vis-a-vis the HMO management including accusations regarding work- related issues without these things having been discussed thoroughly by the board of HMO. In addition, we feel that the lines that separate between the interest of HMO and the interest of HWZOA are not always clear. As a result there is a tendency to confuse them - something that we cannot abide by."

The three noted that a few days ago, Mor-Yosef requested, in writing, to extend his term by two years, by which time the critical first stage of the monumental hospitalization tower of the Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem will have been completed and operational; a strategic plan for the coming years will be completed; and HMO's financial stabilization program will be concluded. The program was begun by the management with the cooperation of the staff of HMO. "This," added the resigning board members, "was undertaken in order to deal with the financial pressure and deficit that resulted from the sudden cutback of the annual allocation from HWZOA to the hospitals."

The HMO board, they wrote, decided over a year ago to postpone the strategic planning that had already been agreed upon earlier. "The reason was that the board members from HWZOA had already decided to end Prof. Mor-Yosef's term."

The resigning members also complained that with less money being donated by HWZOA, they had proposed the establishment of a friends' organization in Israel that would donate funds directly to HMO, but this was opposed by the American members of the board, who preferred to continue to have its monopoly over fundraising.

During the last few days, Shoval tried to prolong Mor-Yosef's tenure by two years, but the American members refused, the former board members declared.

The Jerusalem Post learned Friday that during negotiations, the Americans withdrew their long-held insistence that Mor-Yosef would have to go in December and suggested that he continue for three months or even more, but not longer than Falchuk, who is due to step down herself from the national presidency in July 2011. But then the talks collapsed. No immediate comment could be obtained on this from HWZOA.

"In light of all this," the resigning members declared that they "have come to the realization that we cannot be partners to these decisions and cannot take responsibility for the repercussions of these decisions."

HWZOA said that it "accepts with great regret" the resignation of the three Israeli board members, calling them "dedicated people." Its statement added that "We are troubled to think that an orchestrated campaign of harassment and personal attack may have forced these three people to step down, especially during these difficult times when their service was especially needed. These attacks have been highly critical of the devoted women of Hadassah and even have criticized American Jews in general."

As for replacing the four, HWZOA stated that "fortunately, Israel has many dedicated, talented leaders. We already are in contact with potential new Israeli HMO board members and are confident that we can move quickly to enlist new leaders to continue the important work of HMO."

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