Jewish Agency search for chairman continues

The position of chairman has remained unfilled for an entire year, despite a plethora of candidates coming forward.

 View of the Jewish Agency headquarters in Jerusalem,  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
View of the Jewish Agency headquarters in Jerusalem,
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)

The Jewish Agency has not had a full-time chairman since former chairman Isaac Herzog was elected president of Israel last June.

The Board of Governors meeting will convene in Jerusalem next month, and everyone on the committee said there would be a new chairman or chairwoman.

The front-runner is former Benjamin Netanyahu adviser and ambassador to the UK Mark Regev, Judy Maltz wrote in Haaretz on Sunday. But even though his name was raised, he is not a leading candidate, senior committee officials told The Jerusalem Post Sunday. Regev, who writes a weekly column for the Post, is known to have close ties to progressive religious movements, even though he advised right-wing and conservative Israeli leaders.

Construction and Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin is a potential candidate, Yehudah Shlezinger wrote in Israel Hayom on Friday. But committee members said his candidacy was not relevant since he has openly objected to the Western Wall compromise, and he reportedly has not met heads of the liberal streams.

Nine out of 10 committee members have to vote for a candidate to receive the job. The problem is that all candidates presented to the committee so far have not received even close to nine commitments.

 IN JULY, newly-elected Israeli president and outgoing chairman of the Jewish Agency Isaac Herzog and chairman of the World Zionist Organization Yaakov Hagoel attend a farewell ceremony held in Herzog’s honor at the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem.  (credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON/FLASH90) IN JULY, newly-elected Israeli president and outgoing chairman of the Jewish Agency Isaac Herzog and chairman of the World Zionist Organization Yaakov Hagoel attend a farewell ceremony held in Herzog’s honor at the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem. (credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON/FLASH90)

In addition, the government does not have only one candidate. It has many, which means the committee does not see a coalition-backed candidate as a game changer.

Since most candidates’ names have been leaked to the media, a new and nonofficial subcommittee has been created to finalize a list of candidates who can win a consensus. Their names will then go to the full committee.

The four subcommittee members are WZO chairman and interim Jewish Agency chairman Yaakov Hagoel, incoming Jewish Agency Board of Governors chairman Mark Wilf, outgoing Board of Governors chairman Michael Siegel and Keren Hayesod (United Israel Appeal) World Board of Trustees chairman Steven Lowy.

The candidates until now have been former MK Ruth Calderon, former MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh, ambassador Danny Danon, Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, ambassador Michael Oren, Belgian businessman Roby Spiegel, former minister Omer Yankelevich, Anu Museum chairwomen Irina Nevzlin, former consul-general in New York Dani Dayan (who quit the race and became chairman of Yad Vashem), Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who was mentioned as a candidate.

Intelligence Minister Elazar Stern was favored at the beginning of the race but pulled out after saying that during his army service he shredded documents with complaints about sexual harassment.

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.