The Jewish Agency will make fighting global anti-Semitism a key priority in the coming decade, according to its new strategic plan, scheduled to be unveiled on Sunday.
As part of this effort, the quasi-governmental agency plans to increase the funds it allocates for ensuring the safety and security of Jewish communities outside Israel. It also plans to assume a more pro-active role in communicating and liaising with leaders of countries where Jews have come under attack. To help fight anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism on college campuses around the world, the Agency plans additionally to expand the network of young Israeli envoys it has stationed abroad. (The network currently includes 2,000 full-time envoys, also known as shlichim).
The 10-year-plan will be presented for approval to the Jewish Agency Board of Governors during its meetings in Jerusalem this week. It reflects the desire of Chairman Isaac Herzog – who stepped into the top position a little more than a year ago – to take the 90-year-old organization in a new direction more in tune with the hot-button issues affecting world Jewry.
“Today we are refining our strategic mission for the coming decade, based on the challenges Jews are facing today,” Herzog said in a statement announcing the plan. “In collaboration with additional partners in the Jewish communities and in Israel, we will work to provide concrete solutions to the greatest challenges facing the Jewish people at this time: mending the rifts among our people, building a two-way bridge between Israel and world Jewry, encouraging aliyah and providing security for Jews around the world.”
Until quite recently, the Agency had been almost exclusively focused on promoting and facilitating the immigration of Jews to Israel. Under the helm of the past chairman, the former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, emphasis shifted to creating bridges between Israel and world Jewry and engaging young Jews abroad with Israel.
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As part of the new plan, the Agency plans to create and facilitate programs that connect Jews around the world to each other, and not only to Israel.
Earlier this year, the Agency began offering dozens of employees early retirement packages as part of an effort to reduce staff by 10 percent. These cutbacks were mandated by the ongoing decline in donations from major Jewish philanthropies overseas, in particular the Jewish Federations of North America – the Agency’s chief benefactor.
It was these cuts in donations that also forced the Agency to come up with a plan for reorganizing its priorities in the coming years.
As part of the strategic plan, Haaretz has learned, further streamlining is likely, and certain departments, no longer considered vital to the organization, could be shut permanently.