Jewish Agency reassures its board of governors over Masa crisis

JAFI vows to come to an agreement with government in order to open registration for coming year.

January 15, 2018 14:33
2 minute read.
Jewish Agency reassures its board of governors over Masa crisis

MORRIS KAHN, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and Dr. Salman Zarka, director of Ziv Medical Center, announce a pilot program to aid Syrian children.. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The Jewish Agency has sent a letter to its board of governors reassuring them that a solution would be found to the agency’s disagreement with the government over Masa’s Israel Experience programs.

The letter sent on Sunday night followed media reports that the 13-year partnership between the organization’s founding partners, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Jewish Agency had hit a bump in the road.

Shlomit Barnea Fargo, legal adviser to the Prime Minister’s Office, asked that a contractual relationship between the founding partners be reviewed due to a “conflict of interests.”

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and CEO and director-general Alan Hoffman said in the letter obtained by the The Jerusalem Post that in recent months it had been conducting an ongoing dialogue with its partners in the government.

The talks are mainly focused on the role of the Masa Israel Experience, a subsidiary company of the Jewish Agency. The agreement between the government and the Jewish Agency states that Israel Experience will not supply services to more than 20% of the program’s participants, since the Jewish Agency is, in effect, transferring money internally.

It is difficult to abide by the quota, as it is dependent on the number of participants brought by Masa’s other providers.
Israel Experience was not informed how many people other organizers were bringing to Israel until the end of December. As a result, Israel Experience CEO Amos Hermon told the Post on Sunday, the organization had to tell some 340 participants that the internships in Israel they were soon scheduled to begin would no longer be possible.

“The issues under debate are currently under review by the government secretary in full partnership with the Jewish Agency, with the express intention of both parties to reach an agreed-upon solution to the matter at hand and open registration for the coming year,” the Jewish Agency letter read. “It is clear to all that Masa is a flagship program whose importance to the State of Israel and to the Jewish people is beyond question.”

“The leadership of The Jewish Agency and of the Government of Israel will spare no efforts in order to ensure that Masa’s future is even brighter than its past,” the letter added.

Masa brings thousands of Diaspora Jews to Israel every year on various programs that include gap-year, summer, internship, fellowship and study programs. Some 120,000 participants from the ages of 18 through 30 have taken part in such activities.

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