Thursday, December 16, 2004

Oh G-d, not another useless Jewish organization

Plans for a Diaspora 'parliament'/'assembly', which I had originally assumed was just a flight of fancy by Israeli President Katzav, seem to be gathering pace. The 'parliament' (if that's what they choose to ultimately call it) will have the power to consult Israel on policy matters which will affect Jews across the globe, and is also intended to help forge closer relations between Israeli Jews and Diaspora Jews. A working draft should be finalized in the next three months.
I outlined my reservations regarding such a project in June (although it was then purely theoretical), and believe those reasons still stand, so I won't repeat them here. In any case, this particular initiative has 'disaster' and 'big bore' written all over it. My favorite quote comes from Uzi Dayan, who recommends that the parliament include 'young people,' perhaps as young as 40 (!) -- cutting edge, I suppose, compared to the rest of the Jewish institutions where you're considered young if you're five years into your pension.
Ultimately, the idea of forging closer relations between Israel and the Diaspora by creating another body where a bunch of unelected old codgers can pontificate is noble, but completely misguided (I'd register my protest, but unfortunately don't have a vote in any of the Jewish organizations which will make the decision). Spend the money by doubling the allocation to Birthright, or paying for every Israeli high school student to spend two weeks with a Jewish family in the Diaspora. That's where you'll make a difference.

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