Voice of the Jewish News: Israel’s diaspora ties demand a new Jewish Agency chief now

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Voice of the Jewish News: Israel’s diaspora ties demand a new Jewish Agency chief now

It cannot be right that the world's biggest Jewish NGO has been left rudderless because of an opaque appointments process

It’s been a successful seven months on the international stage for Isaac Herzog.

Since he became Israel’s 11th head of state last summer, he’s visited old friends like Britain, newer ones like the United Arab Emirates and now hopes to rebuild a frayed friendship with Turkey.

One of Israel’s most cherished institutions, its presidency, has fresh wind in its sails.

The same cannot be said of another beloved organisation, the Jewish Agency, where Herzog was chairman until he became president. There is still no successor in place and, it seems, no urgency to pick one.

Part of this is because there are so many candidates: nearly every party in Israel’s diverse governing coalition has put a name forward.

But there is also the appointment process, which is breathtakingly opaque.

The decision should be taken by the Agency’s executive, but that group has met multiple times, including this week, and not made progress.

The Jewish Agency is too important to be left rudderless for so long, and not just because it helps hundreds of Jews in countries around the world to make Aliyah each year.

The Jewish diaspora’s relationship with Israel is evolving — indeed, more and more non-Israeli Jews see themselves as a critical friend of Israel, not a part of a diaspora — and it is critical that the Jewish Agency has a strategy to engage them for decades to come.

That is not possible without a permanent leader. Several compelling candidates have declared an interest in the role. It is now time to decide.

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