Sunday, April 19, 2009
Sharansky May Head Jewish Agency
Gil Ronen Sharansky May Head Jewish Agency
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will recommend to the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Agency that Nathan Sharansky be appointed to head the agency in place of Zev Bielski, who recently resigned and was elected a Kadima Knesset Member. Sharansky was a symbol of the struggle of Jews to make Aliyah (immigrate to Israel) from the Soviet Union and spent nine years in jail and in labor camps. He was freed following sustained pressure by his wife Avital, activists and governments worldwide.
He is chairman of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center.
After his dramatic arrival in Israel in 1986, he formed the Yisrael B'Aliyah party and served at different times as the Deputy Prime Minister of Israel, Minister of Housing and Construction, Interior Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade. His final position in the government was Minister without Portfolio responsible for Jerusalem and Jewish Diaspora affairs.
Sharansky resigned from the cabinet in April 2005 in protest over the planned withdrawal from Gaza and the uprooting of the Jewish communities there. He was re-elected to the Knesset in March 2006 as a member of the Likud Party and resigned later that year to form the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies.
Sharansky is also Chairman of the Board of Beit Hatefutsot, the Jewish Diaspora museum.
The Jewish Agency was established in 1923 and served as a quasi-government of the Jewish population in Israel until independence was declared in 1948. Since then, it has focused on bringing Olim (Jewish immigrants) to Israel.
It often has been criticized as an anachronistic body that pays its directors salaries that are equivalent to those of government ministers.