Yitzhak Herzog named next Jewish Agency chairman

June 22, 2018 by Yona Schnitzer - TPS
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Opposition leader Isaac (Bougie) Herzog is to be named the next Chairman of the Jewish Agency, despite the opposition of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Herzog will replace Natan Sharansky who has been in the post since 2009.

Isaac Herzog           Photo: Hillel Maeir/TPS

On Thursday, the Jewish Agency released a statement stating that its leadership nomination committee will officially recommend Herzog as the next Chairman of the Executive to the Jewish Agency Board of Governors on Sunday. Herzog is expected to assume office by August 1st.

“Following an appeal from leaders of the Jewish Diaspora, I have agreed to take upon myself the position of Chairman of the Jewish Agency,” Herzog said in a statement.“These are days of significant challenges in all matters related to the relationship of the Jewish people with the state of Israel.”

Herzog posted on Twitter a letter sent to him by “unsigned, leaders of major Jewish organizations” which read:

“At a time when the majority of Jews still lives outside of the State of Israel, the ties and mutual bonds between the Jewish people and the State of Israel are more critical than ever, and the challenges facing the Jewish people require great mutual responsibility between the Jewish people and the State of Israel… We, the unsigned, leaders of major Jewish organizations and religious streams, believe that you are uniquely suitable to assume the role of Chairman of the Jewish Agency following Natan Sharansky… We call upon you to accept this position in order to work to strengthen ties between Israel and the Diaspora.”

Herzog was selected out of a list of candidates which included former Israeli Ambassador to the United States MK Michael Oren and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, who was reportedly Prime Minister Netanyahu’s preferable choice for the position. Following Herzog’s selection, Netanyahu reportedly cancelled a meeting with Jewish Agency executives scheduled for Monday.

Responding to the cancellation by Netanyahu, Avi Gabbay, who replaced Herzog as Labor Chairman last July, said “For Netanyahu, politics is above everything: Above security, above statesmanship, above diplomatic relations, and now, he is even willing to sacrifice our relationship with the Jewish Diaspora for small, petty politics.

“Bougie (Herzog) is the right man in the right place to reconnect American and worldwide Jewry with Israel,” Gabbay said.

Former Prime Minister and Labor Chairman Ehud Barak said “There is no one more fit than Isaac Herzog for the role of Chairman of the Jewish Agency. [He is a] unifying, leading and trust invoking figure, who will build trust between the State of Israel and the Jewish Diaspora.

“The Prime Minister would do well to overcome his nature and work harmoniously with Herzog as an equal,” Barak added.

Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich tweeted that Herzog’s “vast experience and wisdom will help him navigate the complex relationship between the State of Israel and Diaspora Jewry wisely. I wish him great success.”

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