Future of Masa in jeopardy as Prime Minister's Officer to withhold funding
The future of Masa, an organization which brings thousands of Diaspora Jews to Israel every year, is on the line after the legal adviser to the Prime Ministerâs Office asked to halt government funding for its operations.
Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon reported over the weekend that legal adviser to the Prime Minister's Office Shlomit Barnea Fargo had requested that the office stop transferring funds to Masa due to a "conflict of interests."
Masa was founded in 2004 by the Prime Ministerâs Office and the Jewish Agency in a bid to strengthen the connections of Diaspora Jews to Jewish life and to the State of Israel. Some 120,000 Diaspora Jews aged 18-30 have participated in Masa programs.
Barnea Fargo, however, flagged the fact that Israel Experience, which is a subsidiary company of the Jewish Agency, is MASAÂ´s biggest supplier, meaning that the Jewish Agency is ultimately transferring government funds internally and not to external suppliers.
According to Makor Rishon, the contract between the government and the Jewish Agency states that Israel Experience will not supply services to more that 20% of the programÂ´s participants, but it has exceeded this.
The decision to halt these funds has reportedly already affected 350 young adults who were due to arrive in Israel in the coming days to participate in internships via Masa, but received phone calls informing them that the program has been cancelled.
But Masa expressed optimism that there would be no long-term damage.
âThis year we celebrate 13 years as the leader in long-term career and leadership development experiences in Israel, during which 120,000 young adults from around the world have lived Israel like locals,â Masa said in a statement. âThe se deep, authentic encounters with Israel and the Jewish People have produced unparalleled impact for the Jewish world and Israel, and Masa is confident that our founding partners will find a way to solve the issues so that this valuable project continues to thrive, and to shape the Jewish future.â
In a statement to The Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Agency said: âIt is inconceivable that Jewish young people will be unable to visit and experience life in Israel, some as part of their aliya process, due solely to bureaucratic circumstances that are preventing the transfer of the funds. We are working with the Government Secretariat to find a solution as swiftly as possible.â
The Jerusalem Post has contacted the Prime Minister's Office for comment.
Source: Google News