Natan Sharansky .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Current and former Knesset members expressed anger at American Jewish leaders for not proposing any women on their shortlist for chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel.
The American heads of the agency and of Jewish Federations of North America have given Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a list of at least six candidates they deem worthy to succeed Natan Sharansky as agency chairman, sources with knowledge of the thinking of the leadership of JFNA and lay leadership of the agency told The Jerusalem Post exclusively on Sunday.
The list includes Energy 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.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid sharply criticized the American Jewish leaders at a meeting of his Knesset faction on Monday, in an answer to a question from the Post
“I saw the list, and even in this room there are those who are no less qualified,” Lapid said. “To present only men to lead the Jewish world in 2017 proves that they don’t understand the Jewish world.”
Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli said it should have been obvious to the American Jewish leaders that they were neglecting half the population
“It’s about equal opportunity, and realizing that you have to share power, resources and decision-making,” she said. “There are many extremely accomplished, talented women.”
When asked if she is interested in the job, Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni only said she is familiar with the story and smiled. But she then proceeded to speak to her faction about Netanyahu neglecting the needs of the Jewish world. When asked afterward whether this was a coincidence, she said indeed it was a coincidence and unrelated to the vacancy at the agency.
By contrast, former Labor Party and Independence faction MK Einat Wilf admitted openly that she is interested in the job, but she said no one had spoken to her about the post.
“It is shameful that the Jewish world is incapable of putting forth strong female candidates for the head of the Jewish Agency in 2017 going on 2018,” Wilf said. “Being a woman, I notice where there are no women. It’s part of my feminism to notice that and to call it out.”
Wilf said she had an extensive vision on the changing relationship between Israel and the Diaspora.
Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman said he is not upset that none of the candidates are Russian immigrants.
“Sharansky’s from Russia, and so is Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, and I speak with a Russian accent; so we can’t claim discrimination. If the next agency head doesn’t speak Russian, it’s OK.”
The Jewish Federations of North America has not yet issued a response.