First meeting set for Israel-Diaspora task force

Discussion to center on establishing worldwide network of Israeli cultural centers, increasing financial support for Israel-Diaspora programs.

yehezkel 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
yehezkel 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
The new government task force meant to refashion Israel-Diaspora relations will hold its first official meeting next week at the Prime Minister's Office. At the meeting, to be chaired by Cabinet Secretary Ovad Yehezkel, and including task force members Jewish Agency head Ze'ev Bielski and Diaspora Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog, discussion is expected to be centered around two ideas: Establishing a worldwide network of Israeli cultural centers modeled on the British Council, and dramatically increasing financial support for existing Israel-Diaspora programs such as birthright Israel and Masa. The task force was established in mid-February following a meeting at the PMO of officials and experts dealing with the Israel-Diaspora relationship, including Israeli representatives of the World Jewish Congress, United Jewish Community and American Jewish Committee. According to PMO officials at the time, the new task force is meant to seek ways in which Israel can begin to invest in the Diaspora, rather than remaining merely the recipients of Diaspora aid. Other ideas which the task force will likely examine in future meetings include establishing an online Jewish university and uniting the disparate Israeli representations overseas - consulates, Nativ emissaries, Jewish Agency offices, and others - to reduce overhead and expand programming.