Report: female candidates included in hunt for Jewish Agency head

Raya Strauss is a major contributor to projects of the Jewish Agency and JFNA in Nahariya, where she lives, as well as the Spirit of Galilee.

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February 18, 2018 05:41
2 minute read.
BEN-GURION UNIVERSITY President Rivka Carmi: The vast majority of academics in the world are against

BEN-GURION UNIVERSITY President Rivka Carmi: The vast majority of academics in the world are against or indifferent to BDS.BEN-GURION UNIVERSITY President Rivka Carmi: The vast majority of academics in the world are against or indifferent to BDS.. (photo credit: BEN GURION UNIVERSITY OF THE NEGEV)

After an outcry over all the prospective candidates for Jewish Agency chairman being men, American Jewish leaders finally suggested women for the post, according to a report over the weekend in the Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon.

The Jerusalem Post on Monday reported that Jewish leaders from the United States, Europe and Israel have expressed interest in Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Michael Oren replacing Natan Sharansky as chairman of the agency.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also held discussions about the position with Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel, who was selected as the World Likud’s candidate for the position, which belongs to the faction in a World Zionist Organization agreement.

The Post reported in November that American heads of the Jewish Agency and the Jewish Federations of North America had given Netanyahu a list of at least six candidates they deem worthy to succeed Sharansky: National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz, opposition leader Isaac Herzog, Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai, Consul-General in New York Dani Dayan, Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and former ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor.

The American Jewish community faced criticism for not including women on that list.

The news report said Jewish leaders from JFNA, WZO, and Keren Hayesod were promoting the candidacies of Oren, Steinitz, Herzog and Prosor but added three new names: Former ambassador to the United Nations Danny Gillerman, Israeli businesswoman Raya Strauss, and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev President Rivka Carmi.

But Gillerman, Strauss, and Carmi all said they had not been told by anyone that they were being considered to head the agency, and that they were hearing about the report for the first time from The Post contacting them about it.

“I was offered the position last time before Sharansky received it,” Gillerman said. “I declined at the time because I didn’t have the time. I am still busy, representing the Blackstone Group in Israel, chairing the Israel Opera, and chairing the board of Ichilov Tel Aviv Medical Center. It is a very important position, the prime minister of the Jewish people, but no one has spoken to me, and I doubt I can devote the necessary time.”

Strauss is a major contributor to projects of the Jewish Agency and JFNA in Nahariya, where she lives, as well as the Spirit of Galilee, Or, Hashomer Hahadash and other efforts to aid the region.

Carmi has been praised for her efforts at the helm of the university. “Nobody has approached me,” she said.

Former MK Einat Wilf, who has expressed outrage at the lack of female candidates in the past, reacted positively to the new report.

“I am very pleased to hear that,” she said. “I hope it’s not window dressing; I hope it’s serious. We are well into the 21st century.”


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