Next week Masa, a joint program of the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency, will be launched with goal of bringing 20,000 Jewish young people to Israel each year to spend a semester to a year studying here. The government and the Jewish Agency plan to raise $200 million a year for the program, and a large part of the funding will come from the same group that contributes today to Birthright.Well, if they won't criticize it, I will. This paragraph comes in the context of an article about how difficult it has been to find funding for birthright, hands-down the most successful programme to re-engage Jewish youth in years. Is it really necessary to undercut it simply so that the Jewish Agency can have its own programme to boast about? I really question, in any case, whether there are 20,000 (!) Jewish 'young people' a year who will be prepared to spend an entire semester in Israel. This is an enormous commitment and frankly, the kind of kids they're aiming at are not going to be prepared to take it on unless they've been through birthright. So short-sighted and so selfish.
Bronfman avoids mentioning Masa, and he and his partners are careful not to criticize it. Outgoing Jewish Agency Chairman Sallai Meridor, on the other hand, is lavish in his praise of Birthright and says that Masa is the continuation of its work. But beneath the correctness and praise, there is no small amount of tension between the two sides.
Secondly, there is a strikingly revealing comment by the Ha'aretz reporter which yet again demonstrates just how out of touch the paper is with the average Israeli voter -- and the average Israeli former Leftist:
Bronfman, a past contributor to Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak... says his political views have not really changed. Therefore the compliments he pays Sharon sound quite surprising.Well, surprising only to an out of touch Ha'aretz reporter... Of-course, most former members of the Left would say exactly the same thing -- they still believe that the ultimate solution is a Palestinian state and giving back the territories, so their political views have not really changed, but either they believe that now is not the right time, or they believe it has to be done differently to the way Peres, Barak etc. did it, or they simply believe that Sharon is the one who will ultimately carry these policies out. If Ha'aretz hasn't picked that up yet after 2 elections where the Left has defected en masse to Sharon.......... no wonder they can't figure out why their circulation is falling.