Jewish Agency Shakeup Leads to Exec's Exit

Eli Cohen, who until recently was director general of the aliyah department, resigned this week after the institution eliminated the department he headed for eight years.

A senior Jewish Agency official resigned this week after working for the organization for a quarter century, following the institution's historic reorganization that eliminated the department he headed for eight years.

"My years at the agency have been a most meaningful period in my professional life," said Eli Cohen, who until recently was director general of the aliyah department, according to a statement released this week. "I leave with a gratifying feeling." His resignation is effective as of May 1, according to the statement.

Natan Sharansky, Benjamin Netanyahu

Jewish Agency spokesman Haviv Gur told Anglo File that Cohen - one of the agency's top 10 officials - disagreed with the vision of the organization's chairman Natan Sharansky, adding that Cohen was not the only senior staffer who did not see eye to eye with Sharansky in every matter regarding the organization's new strategy.

"I am sorry to see Eli go," said Sharansky, "but I respect his desire to embark on a new path. I wish him much success in his future endeavors." No replacement has yet been nominated, Gur said.

Under the reform, the aliyah department was closed, and Cohen was appointed deputy director-general of the Jewish Agency, charged with heading the Global Operations and Aliyah Services operational unit that replaced the department.

Cohen - who has been with the agency since 1986 - declined to comment when approached by Anglo File.

The chairman of the Council of Immigrant Associations in Israel, Mario Laib, expressed surprise and disappointment about Cohen's resignation. "Cohen was very successful in recent years, he increased the number of immigrants to Israel from around the world, he changed how work is done with the Absorption Ministry and improved the way new arrivals are being absorbed," he told Anglo File.

Given the current changes within the Jewish Agency, Laib said he does not understand how the organization's leadership accepted Cohen's resignation so quickly. "When an organization undergoes such dramatic changes, it is very important to hold on to key people," he said. "Cohen's resignation is another blow to the encouragement of aliyah and to absorption."

No replacement has been named.