Jewish Agency

Jewish Agency
(Jewish Agency for Palestine, Jewish Agency for Israel)
   A quasi-governmental institution established in the 1920s under the terms of the Palestine mandate to advise and cooperate with the British authorities in the task of establishing the Jewish national home in Palestine. Article 4 of the mandate for Palestine provided for the recognition of an appropriate "Jewish Agency" as a "public body for the purpose of advising and cooperating with the Administration of Palestine in such economic, social and other matters as may affect the establishment of the Jewish National Home and the interests of the Jewish population in Palestine, and subject always to the control of the Administration, to assist and take part in the development of the country." Article 6 of the mandate stipulated that the British administration of Palestine should, "in cooperation with the Jewish Agency," encourage settlement by Jews on the land. Article 11 provided that the administration might arrange with the Jewish Agency "to construct or operate, upon fair and equitable terms, any public works, services and utilities, and to develop any of the natural resources of the country, insofar as these matters are not directly undertaken by the Administration." The mandate itself recognized the World Zionist Organization (WZO) as such Jewish Agency (article 4) and directed the WZO to "take steps in consultation with His Britannic Majesty's Government to secure the cooperation of all Jews who are willing to assist in the establishment of the Jewish National Home." The WZO, on its part, undertook steps to secure such cooperation.
   The WZO performed its functions until a Jewish Agency for Palestine (which included both non-Zionist and Zionist Jews) was formally constituted in 1929. It provided the apparatus for worldwide Jewish participation in the building of the Jewish home in Palestine. The Jewish Agency worked with the government of the Yishuv and, particularly, with the Vaad Leumi. Generally, the agency promoted immigration (see ALIYA), settlement, and economic development and mobilized support for Jewish efforts in Palestine. Its political department acted as the "foreign ministry" of the quasi-government in Palestine. It negotiated with the Palestine government and Great Britain, and it represented the cause of the Jewish national home before appropriate organs of the League of Nations and the United Nations. The Jewish Agency's officials, along with those of the Vaad Leumi and other organs of the Yishuv, provided Israel's ministries with a trained core of civil servants and political leaders. David Ben-Gurion, who served as Israel's first prime minister and minister of defense, was chairman of the executive of the Jewish Agency, and Moshe Sharett (formerly Shertok) was a director of the agency's political department.
   One of the main tasks of the Jewish Agency during the period of the British administration of Palestine was to represent the Zionist Movement and world Jewry before the mandatory government, the League of Nations, and the British government in London. It also served as part of the governing structure of the Yishuv. It promoted Zionism, encouraged and facilitated immigration, raised funds, engaged in social welfare activities, promoted Jewish culture, developed economic enterprises, and formulated domestic and external policies for the Jewish community.
   It was realized long before 15 May 1948 that the future independent and sovereign Jewish state would be fully responsible for the conduct of its domestic and foreign affairs and that some functions hitherto exercised by the Jewish Agency would have to be transferred to the state. But, it was also obvious that the state would not and could not deal with all matters that had been in the purview of the Jewish Agency (in particular, immigration, absorption of immigrants, and land settlement), not only for financial reasons, but also because they were a global Jewish responsibility and not an internal affair of Israel. It was felt that the Jewish Agency would be needed to express the partnership of the Jewish people all over the world with Israel in the historic enterprise of building the state and to channel and utilize properly the aid that was expected and forthcoming from Diaspora Jewry.
   The Jewish Agency/WZO, even though nongovernmental, performs functions instrumental to Zionism and important to the Israel government's activities; its personnel often move to and from positions of responsibility within the government. Upon independence, the government of Israel began to assume many of the functions previously performed by this institution and formalized its relationship with it through legislation and administrative decisions. The Jewish Agency today is responsible for the organization of Jewish immigration to Israel; the reception, assistance, and settlement of immigrants; care of children; and aid to cultural projects and institutions of higher learning. It fosters Hebrew education and culture in the Diaspora, guides and assists Zionist youth movements, and organizes the work of the Jewish people in support of Israel.
   The mutual relations of the state and the Jewish Agency were put on a firm legal basis by the Law on the Status of the World Zionist Organization-Jewish Agency of 5713 (1952), article 4 of which declares: "The State of Israel recognizes the WZO as the authorized agency that will continue to operate in the State of Israel for the development and settlement of the country, the absorption of immigrants from the diaspora and the coordination of the activities in Israel of Jewish institutions and organizations active in those fields." After the Six-Day War (1967), it was suggested that while the Jewish Agency/WZO should remain in charge of immigration, the absorption and integration of immigrants should become largely a responsibility of the government. A new Ministry for the Absorption of Immigrants was established. In recent years, the Jewish Agency and the WZO have been restructured to reflect changes in Israel-Diaspora relations.
   When Sallai Meridor took over as head of the Jewish Agency in June 1999, he said that while the agency would continue to help Jews settle in Israel, it would expand its mission into strengthening Jewish identity, especially among young Jews, and peoplehood. Meridor unexpectedly resigned as Jewish Agency head in late May 2005 and was succeeded by former Ra'anana mayor Zeev Bielsky.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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  • Jewish Agency — Die Jewish Agency ist heute die offizielle Einwanderungsorganisation des Staates Israel. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Geschichte 2 Gegenwart 3 Jewish Agency international 4 Siehe auch …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Jewish Agency —    Under the mandate for Palestine that was assigned to Great Britain by the League of Nations in 1921, a provision was included for the establishment of a Jewish Agency that would serve as the executive and political policy making body for the… …   Historical dictionary of the Holocaust

  • Jewish Agency — ▪ Israeli history in full  Jewish Agency Of Israel,  Hebrew  Ha sokhnut Ha yehudit El eretz Yisraʾel,         international body representing the World Zionist Organization, created in 1929 by Chaim Weizmann, with headquarters in Jerusalem. Its… …   Universalium

  • Jewish Agency for Palestine —   [ dʒuːɪʃ eɪdʒənsi fɔː pæləstaɪn; englisch »Jüdische Vertretung für Palästina«], kurz Jewish Agency [ dʒuːɪʃ eɪdʒənsi, englisch], Abkürzung JA [dʒeɪ eɪ], offiziell 1922 48 die Vertretung der »World Zionist Organization« (Abkürzung WZO;… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Jewish Agency for Israel — The Jewish Agency for Israel (Hebrew: הסוכנות היהודית לארץ ישראל, HaSochnut HaYehudit L Eretz Yisra el ), also known as the Sochnut or JAFI, served as the pre state Jewish government before the establishment of Israel and later became the… …   Wikipedia

  • Jewish Agency for Israel — Die Jewish Agency ist heute die offizielle Einwanderungsorganisation des Staates Israel. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Geschichte 2 Gegenwart 3 Jewish Agency international 4 Siehe auch 5 Weblinks // …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Jewish Agency emissary — employee of the Jewish agency sent abroad to facilitate immigration to Israel …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Jewish Agency leadership — position of leader of the Jewish Agency …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Jewish Agency for Israel — international agency that promotes immigration to Israel and the rebuilding of Israel as the Jewish homeland …   English contemporary dictionary

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