Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Daniel Elazar Papers Index

Israel-Diaspora Relations

Tasks and Functions

Reinventing World Jewry:
How to Design the World Jewish Polity

Daniel J. Elazar

The foregoing institutions, organizations, and programs do not exist in a vacuum. Because they developed on an incremental basis in response to perceived needs, they are parts of a network whose appearance is not neat, but that exists to serve the following tasks and functions.

Common Tasks and Functions of the World Jewish Polity

  1. Nation-building.
  2. Development of Israel.
  3. Relief and rescue of communities in need.
  4. Fighting anti-semitism
  5. Representation of Jewish interests in world affairs.
  6. Mobilization of activists.
  7. Governance.
  8. Assuring the Existence of Appropriate Authorities to Carry Out Necessary Functions.
  9. Fundraising.
  10. Oversight.
  11. Interorganization relations.

1. Nation-building

1.1 Among the Big Five, there is a broad general consensus that this is the primary task of the instrumentalities of the world Jewish polity today. For the State of Israel this task is clearly identified with the development of the state, although it has always included the idea of the strengthening of the diaspora as well, if only for instrumental purposes. Before the establishment of the state and until 1967 those ideas were essentially focused on strengthening Jewish life in the diaspora so as to make diaspora Jews more interested in settling in Israel. Since 1967 it has included a strong component of maintaining Jewish life in the diaspora for its own sake or, in our terms, for the sake of the building and survival of the Jewish nation, read Jewish people.

1.2 JAFI was originally founded to serve as the arm of the World Zionist Organization and such diaspora leaders as identified with its purposes in this respect to build the Jewish national home in Eretz Israel. It has since the establishment of the state and most particularly since the reconstitution devoted more time to discussing and even in a sense trying to define nation-building as a joint Israel-diaspora task. While all of its leadership acknowledges that JAFI's primary task is nation-building, in some cases it is hardly more than formal acknowledgement since deep down (and sometimes not so deep) the diaspora leadership still may perceive much of its work as philanthropy, saving Jews in distress, rather than nation-building. We discuss this in more detail in "The UIA-KH-WZO Partnership in JAFI: Options for the Future," the first report in this series.

1.3 The WZO and Keren Hayesod, its creature, obviously share the strongest and most Israel-centered definition of national-building although in fact with the weakened survival capacity of the WZO in the diaspora and the development of Keren Hayesod into a Jewish rather than a Zionist fundraising body, the diaspora leadership of both have in some cases come closer to a diasporist or philanthropic definition of what nation-building is all about.

1.4 JDC, among the Big Five, is the least committed to nation-building, whether in Israel or the diaspora, in theory, though in practice it fully shares the nation-building goals of the majority. Originally established as an American philanthropic organization to provide relief and rehabilitation for Jews within their countries of residence, to make them good and productive citizens of those countries, in the early days it not only was in competition with Zionism for funds but also ideologically. Much of its early leadership even opposed the goals of Zionism, even when it undertook relief and rehabilitation operations in Eretz Israel. It took the rise of Nazism and the Holocaust to change that.

Since World War II, JDC has more or less abandoned its emancipationist ideology, although more than any other organization it holds, both formally and informally, to the idea that Jewish life in the diaspora should be strengthened for those Jews who choose to remain outside of Israel. This remains a source of tension with the State of Israel and JAFI, although operationally their differences are very small. JDC has embraced the idea of the Jewish people even if it interprets that idea geographically more broadly than the Zionist movement, so the tensions in the partnership are frequently over strategy and tactics rather than goals.

1.5 In that respect, the WJC, although its founding was initiated by the WZO, is perhaps the most diasporist of the Big Five organizations, having the least prominent role in Israel and relying heavily on the idea that its main mission is to serve the Jewish people in the diaspora. Still, in the last years it has expanded its mission in Israel as well, through such devices as the initiation on sponsorship of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations. Nevertheless, WJC's diasporism is fully oriented toward Jewish peoplehood as a variant of the nation-building theme which was implanted in the organization at its founding and brought to a high state of development in the days of Nahum Goldmann.

Goldmann and those who surrounded him were old-time diaspora Jewish nationalists. They may have been uncomfortable with many aspects of life in the State of Israel but they saw themselves as, first and foremost, citizens of the Jewish people. Their life-work was conducted very much within that framework, even at a time when the framework itself was breaking down both in Israel and in the New World diasporas, where Jews were accepted as fully equal citizens of the countries in which they found themselves and remained Jews formally by religion and informally as a result of their ethnicity without any national component prominent in their eyes or in the eyes of their fellow countrymen.

Thus nation-building, with its variant of peoplehood, is a strongly shared goal of all five organizations and a primary task for all of them -- this means in all of its facets -- and all of the Big Five are committed to it as a central proposition of Jewish existence.

2. The Development of Israel

Whether for nation-building or for philanthropic reasons, every one of the Big Five sees itself as committed to this task which stands as the first and foremost one in its public and undoubtedly in its private self-perceptions. Needless to say, each sees its task in its own way.

2.1 Only the State of Israel can conduct those tasks of governance and self-defense which lie at the bedrock of the development of the State of Israel.

2.2 JAFI has its set of tasks revolving around aliya, klita, and rural and urban development. Those are the original tasks of JAFI and while they now share the stage with other nation-building tasks, they remain the primary tasks of the JAFI and of those who contribute to the support of JAFI.

2.3 The WZO was called into being to build the state and make it possible, and while its tasks today are more diaspora-oriented, they are diaspora-oriented in the name of the development of the State of Israel.

2.4 JDC was called into being for purposes of relief and rehabilitation, but among its very first tasks during World War I was to provide relief and rehabilitation for the Jewish population in Eretz Israel at the time, a task which has undergone a number of permutations but which it has never relinquished and which acquired new expression after 1948.

2.5 The WJC perhaps has the least in the way of a concrete role with regard to the development of the State of Israel, but it, too, over the years acquired more of one, serving as Israel's entry into regions and countries of the world that were unwilling to develop direct ties with the Jewish state, particularly in the Communist bloc and the Third World during the time when Israel was excluded from direct formal contacts with both.

3. Relief and Rescue of Jewish Communities in Need

3.1 This was the precise reason why the JDC was called into existence and it has always undertaken to do this on diasporist premises, that is to say, Jews may choose to live in the diaspora or not, but if they do so choose, the Jewish people have an obligation to help them live securely and well. As indicated above, before the Holocaust the JDC pursued these aims on an emancipationist basis and since the establishment of the state on a more Israel-oriented diasporist basis. Within the JDC the two trends clashed at the point of transition in the 1940s when the emancipationists wanted to keep the JDC activities in Israel to a minimum and their opponents argued that in view of the JDC's self-assumed mandate to help Jews wherever they were, the Joint had an obligation to help those in Israel as much as those in other countries.

3.2 The WZO also entered into this activity as part of its Zionist mission with the purpose of its relief and rehabilitation efforts tied in to the aliya of diaspora Jewry to Israel on the argument that only in Israel could there be true relief and rehabilitation of Jews. In fact, the WZO was able to do relatively little in this regard because it was basically a political organization without the appropriate welfare and social services structure. Also, it was very identified with a political ideology that was very often rejected by the rulers of the lands where Jews needed the most relief and rehabilitation. Indeed, a great part of JDC's success was achieved by its assuming a profile of being very much non-political and strictly philanthropic. This was easy for JDC's founders, a few of whom in any case wanted the Jews to have much visibility as a political entity on the world scene. As it proved to be functional in terms of JDC's mission, it became a cardinal principle of all of JDC's leadership, voluntary and professional, regardless of where they stood individually on matters of Jewish politics. WZO was avowedly political from the first, hence could not abjure its political role for other purposes.

3.3 The State of Israel assumed the mantle of the WZO with respect to relief and rehabilitation after 1948. It, too, was limited because it was not only political but a politically sovereign state in the family of nations. At the same time that standing also gave it certain advantages. It had more money at its disposal because it could tax. It had an army with equipment. It had a secret service good at infiltrating into difficult places. At first, its mission also was rather well-confined to bringing Jews in distress to Israel, but after the end of the first mass aliya in the 1950s it slowly began to expand its activities to defend and assist Jews wherever they happened to be, albeit still with the ultimate intention of stimulating aliya.

3.4 Early on, JAFI began to serve as an arm, first of the WZO and then of the State of Israel with respect to the relief and rehabilitation of Jews both in the diaspora, in stimulating and overseeing their aliya to israel, and then in Israel to make their klita possible. These have always been principal JAFI functions and remain so to this day.

3.5 The role of the WJC in all of this is not only to endorse these efforts but to fight for them on the political front, to secure the political rights, security and protection for Jews in the diaspora, especially in their communities, and the right of Jews in the diaspora to organize in communities. More than any of the others of the Big Five, the WJC's mission is political. They have neither the budget nor the responsibility for functioning on other than in the political arena.

4. Fighting Anti-Semitism

4.1 Here the WJC is in its element. This is its primary task and it does so on the principle of maximum possible visibility, working behind the scenes only where it feels it to be absolutely necessary and trying to bring in the bright light of publicity in most cases.

4.2 JDC functions in this area primarily in relief, rehabilitation and rescue, even working with anti-semites where necessary to bring about the successful completion of its mission.

4.3 The State of Israel shows great concern about anti-semitism but always as an instrument of Israeli policy, either as an argument for aliya or to strengthen Israel's hand in its particular definition of its mission to defend Jews wherever they are.

4.4 JAFI has no primary role in the fight against anti-semitism, but quite naturally its work with regard to aliya and klita bring it into contact with this issue.

5. Representing Collective Jewish Interests in World Affairs

The definition of what are collective Jewish interests is often a matter of dispute as are questions of how best to represent them. Still, all of the Big Five agree that it is a fundamental task of the world Jewish polity to represent those interests.

5.1 Probably the organization most clearly designated to represent collective Jewish interests in world affairs is the World Jewish Congress which was established in 1936 for that purpose at the initiative of the WZO when the latter felt that it was limited in doing so because of its Zionist identification. WJC survives first and foremost on the claim that it is doing just that, which it does by claiming to represent all of world Jewry, even, in a somewhat less than fully direct way, the State of Israel, which is represented in the WJC through the WZO.

5.2 The State of Israel also has a certain claim to be the representative of collective Jewish interests in world affairs, although Ben-Gurion formally abjured it in his exchange of letters with Jacob Blaustein in 1952. Still, the state has not often hesitated in its efforts to do so, although its interpretation of what are collective Jewish interests is obviously very Israel-centered and at times Israel has needed pushing to assert those interests in a different way by groups in the diaspora. For example, on the Soviet Jewry issue the Israeli government was very reluctant to get involved for fear of further antagonizing the USSR, but was pushed to do so by Soviet Jewry activists in various diaspora communities around the world. So, too, with Ethiopian Jews in the 1950s, the Israeli government did not want to bring them to Israel on the grounds that their absorption would present major problems. As pressure on their behalf built up among Jewish activists in the diaspora, the Israeli government was forced to reconsider its position and finally used the resources of the state to mount a very visible and successful massive airlift of a few years ago.

The question of how best to represent the collective Jewish interests of Jews in the ex-Soviet republics remains an issue very much on the table with the state's arm, the Lishkat HaKesher, asserting the Israeli government position, whatever that may be at the time, not only in tension with that of JDC but also with that of JAFI, presumably a sister Israeli institution. Still, the state has means of representing what it feels to be collective Jewish interests on the world scene that no other Jewish body has. Perhaps a classic example of that was the kidnapping of Adolph Eichmann from Argentina over thirty years ago. The state was able to activate the Mossad, its embassy in Argentina, and the Israeli airforce, inter alia, to carry out that mission.

5.3 The WZO has also claimed from the first to be representing collective Jewish interests in world affairs but of course in a Zionist manner and directed toward Zionist goals. It has, in fact, limited its ability to do so, having neither the power of a state nor the comprehensiveness of other organizations. That is the major reason why it took the lead in founding the WJC. Still, by participating in the other organizations it asserts its position regularly and occasionally even undertakes actions on its own.

5.4 The JDC has as much of a mandate as any body to represent the collective Jewish interests in world affairs but only in the very narrow area of relief and rehabilitation.

5.5 Of the Big Five, JAFI probably has the least formal role in representing collective Jewish interests in world affairs. Before the establishment of the state, it played the role that the government of Israel plays today, as best it could, but it transferred that role to the new government as soon as the state was declared, except in a few countries where the government of Israel could not operate in any way, but over the years it has lost those missions to others as well. Except for the fact that like the WZO, JAFI may be represented in these other bodies, it has very little direct role of its own. In this respect, WJC and JAFI are polar opposites and JDC is on another point on the triangle.

6. Mobilization of Leadership and Activists to Undertake the Functions of the World Jewish Polity

All five organizations undertake to mobilize leadership, each in its own way, for their own survival and for the Jewish world as a whole. Obviously, the greatest differences in the mobilization process are between the State of Israel, where the normal democratic politics of a state, its government, and the electoral process come into play, and the diaspora bodies, all of which are voluntary organizations and depend more on self-selection. Money figures in the mobilization of leadership in both the state and the other organizations, but in different ways, with far more reliance on the part of the non-state organizations on private wealth as a necessity for leadership than in the state. While all bodies do this separately, they all have a mutual interest in seeing that it is done well. In some cases there may be competition between them in theory, but in fact there is relatively little since people tend to gravitate to where their interests are best expressed, their needs best met, and their achievement level most satisfactory.

6.1 Thus the State of Israel recruits very broadly from all income levels but essentially from those who have an aptitude for politics and the kind of public leadership that can mobilize other politicians and the public.

6.2 JAFI recruits from two very different groups: the Zionist leadership, consisting primarily of diaspora politicians, that is to say, those in the diaspora who have a particular affect for the political dimensions of public affairs but who, unlike those in Israel, do not have constituencies to mobilize except in the narrowest sense. They are, rather, those who are adept in the internal politics of their organizations and in the representation of those organizations to other players. On the other hand, the representatives from the Magbiot are primarily the bigger givers who are also interested in taking an active role in Jewish affairs, either people interested in fundraising or in community planning in the edah arena after having had experience in their local and countrywide arenas.

6.3 The WZO recruits political figures both from Israel and abroad. The Israelis are more likely to be those particularly interested in Israel-diaspora relations.

6.4 WJC also recruits people with political interests, especially those who are better at political concerns than fundraising or community planning and with more interest in the diaspora as their arena of activity than in Israel.

6.5 The JDC recruits people interested in community planning, normally with some capacity to contribute or raise funds as well.

7. Governance Functions in the World Jewish Polity

Here, too, all five bodies share in those tasks that can be defined as governance functions. We have already discussed the principal missions of each body from which flow their functions. Briefly put, they can be summarized as follows:

7.1 The State of Israel is comprehensively responsible for the governance of the Jews living within its territory and assumes partial responsibility for the security, relief, if necessary rescue, rehabilitation, and resettlement of diaspora Jewry. It also assumes some responsibility for the Jewish education of Jews in the diaspora, for supplying their religious needs, especially for Orthodox and traditional Jews. By simply being, it fills certain cultural, academic and spiritual needs for all Jews. Whatever decline it may have suffered in the hearts and minds of world Jewry, in the past decade, Israel still remains the great magnet of the Jewish people and usually plays a Jewish governance role accordingly.

7.2 JAFI plays a governance role primarily in connection with aliya and klita, certain social and increasingly economic services at least nominally connected with klita, urban and regional development and redevelopment in Israel, Jewish education, principally in the diaspora, and providing an opportunity for diaspora Jews to participate in governance activities involving nation-building in Israel and linked to the organs of the state.

7.3 The WZO plays a secondary role to the Jewish Agency in most of the same spheres, although it has much less to do with aliya or klita on the Israeli side of the old "green line." What it does, it does mostly in partnership, formal and informal, with the Jewish Agency and the government of Israel. In some communities, its institutions, organizations and leadership play a direct role in communal governance.

7.4 JDC handles relief and rehabilitation or rescue operations in the diaspora principally within those communities in greatest need but increasingly in communities where their Jewish survival requires outside help. It also provides selected and increasingly limited social services in Israel and has expanded its role as a promoter of experiments in that field. It also promotes experiments in matters of local and regional governance and development within Israel.

7.5 The WJC serves as a kind of diaspora-oriented foreign ministry for the Jewish people, intervening in various parts of the world, usually on the basis of its own decision, often with minimal influence from any of the other bodies, to protect or advance Jewish rights, including in the religious sphere.

8. Assuring that There are Appropriate Bodies for the Carrying On of the Functions of the World Jewish Polity

No doubt, this is an area that needs further development and in which joint efforts could be encouraged.

9. Raising Funds to Cover the Costs of These Functions

The bodies have different ways of doing this.

9.1 The State of Israel levies and collects taxes, borrows money from other governments or from private individuals and institutions, or secures grants to cover its needs.

9.2 JAFI relies upon fundraising through Keren Hayesod or, in the United States, the United Jewish Appeal for perhaps four-fifths of its budget. It secures government grants mostly from the American government for most of the rest, benefits from some transfers of payment from the Israeli government, and periodically borrows funds from private institutions.

9.3 The JDC secures the bulk of its funding through the UJA in the United States and the remainder through U.S. government and occasional Israeli government grants.

9.4 The WZO secures its funding from the Jewish Agency and hence indirectly from the Keren Hayesod and also through some Israeli governmental transfers as part of various formulas between it, JAFI, and the government of Israel.

9.5 WJC secures its funding from private contributors, the Magbiot, JAFI, WZO, and, for some purposes, the government of Israel. Its lifeline in recent years has depended upon some major private gifts.

10. Oversight of the Organizations and Institutions Handling the Functions

Here, too, there are pronounced differences among the five bodies.

10.1 The State of Israel has the full compliment of oversight mechanisms designed to keep government democratic, honest and efficient: elections, laws, and administrative agencies. They work in the accepted manner of states and governments.

10.2 Nominally, JAFI has similar institutions and devices, but because it is a voluntary organization, elections are contested only at certain points. There is a certain amount of self-selection among office-seekers based on factors other than those of a democratic state and there are certain limits imposed by political reality.

10.3 The same is the case with regard to the WZO.

10.4 JDC, because it is guided by philanthropic rather than political principles, relies essentially on administrative other than board control for oversight functions.

10.5 The same can be said for the WJC but in fact the WJC executive leadership has quite a free hand in conducting WJC operations.

11. Developing Appropriate Interorganizational Relations both Among the Authorities that Comprise the World Jewish Polity and the Local, Countrywide, Regional and Worldwide Arenas with which They are Connected and of Jewish Life Generally

This is an ongoing process in which there are most demands for improvement. As a whole, this work is done through various joint authorities or joint committees in which two or more bodies are represented, perhaps along with others of more limited significance.

11.1 The State of Israel also relies on its network of embassies and consulates to maintain its relationships with diaspora Jewish communities as well as various emissaries that it sends out for one purpose or another on an ad hoc basis.

11.2 JAFI relies upon its system of governance which includes leaders and activists who hold significant positions in the other bodies as well. It has much expanded its use of joint authorities, especially with the Israeli government and the WZO, and it has organic connections through the governance system with bodies in the other arenas. In addition it has various joint committees with both sets of bodies of varying degrees of effectiveness. It probably has the most elaborate network of any of the Big Five, which is one of the reasons why it stands at the nexus of the world Jewish polity.

11.3 The WZO maintains frameworks similar to those of JAFI within its particular organizational and institutional network as well as in conjunction with JAFI and the Israeli government, but since it is constituted differently it is more able to act from the center than JAFI which must respond to its various constituents, most of whom are powerful in their own right. JAFI and the WZO both have regular emissaries to the various diaspora Jewish communities including senior resident representatives in both the United States and Europe who have responsibilities in the field of day-to-day operations and liaison.

11.4 JDC is far more self-contained than either of the first three, though it maintains close liaison with the government of Israel and a modicum of liaison with the Jewish Agency, although its relations with the latter body are often tense and even conflictual. It also maintains liaison with its American partners, the UIA, the UJA, and the Council of Jewish Federations on an institutionalized or semi-institutionalized basis.

11.5 The WJC is perhaps the least connected of the Big Five. It maintains continuing ad hoc contacts with the government of Israel through its Israel office plus ad hoc contacts at its highest levels and there are various of its committees on which the others are represented or committees of others on which it is represented. This in part is a reflection of the fact that it has been less necessary for it to do so because of its substantially different role, although there are fields in which greater liaison and coordination could clearly be helpful.

The relationship between the priorities of the Big Five entities and these eleven functions is portrayed in the following table. An effort has been made to rank each function relative to each organization. The rankings in the table will be useful also in assigning functional responsibilities in any subsequent developments.


  State of
Nation-building 1 1 1 2 1
Development of Israel 1 1 1 2 2
Relief and rescue 2 2 2 1 2
Fighting anti-semitism 3 3 2 3 1
Represent Jewish interests in world 2 2 2 2 1
Mobilization of activists 2 2 2 2 2
Governance 2 2 2 2 2
Assuring existence of authorities 2 1 2 2 3
Fundraising 2 2 2 2 2
Oversight 3 2 2 2 3
Interorganizational relations 3 2 3 3 3
Key: 1=premier priority; 2=shared priority; 3=periodic concern

Tensions, Squeak Points, and Conflicts

Where are the tensions, squeak points, and conflicts in this system? On one hand, there seem to be many of them within and between the various bodies. On the other hand, there are remarkably few. If one starts with a model that perfect harmony is both a desired and expected goal, any deviation from it represents some kind of malfunction or at least misfunction. If one assumes that we are still living in reality and that the messianic age is not upon us, then not only are tensions, squeak points and conflicts to be expected, but many are to be welcomed, in a world where any individual's, group's or institution's knowledge of the truth is at best imperfect and where there are legitimate different and even contradictory or competing interests that require balancing.

The best way that we have found to deal with all of the above is through open, democratic politics. The vast majority of opinion-makers in the world today agree that pluralism is a good thing, but pluralism in all too many quarters has been defined erroneously as "you do your thing and I'll do mine and we will both try to avoid being judgmental about the other." True pluralism recognizes that not only do people have broad rights to claim that they can make legitimate decisions regarding their own lives and how they want to live but that interests do clash or at the very least function at cross-purposes, that resources are limited and decisions have to be made as to how they will be allocated in the face of what remain scarcity, where not everything can be done as much as we might wish that it could be. In the realities of an imperfect world, the pluralism of democratic politics has a great deal to recommend it even if, for all except those who enjoy the process, at times it may seem to be wearing, uncomfortable, and even unpleasant.

There are, however, certain principles of democratic politics which must be maintained if democratic politics is to work. Most of the tensions, squeak points and conflicts within the world Jewish polity honestly must be attributed to the working of democratic politics and most of the discomfiture with them has its source in relying upon people for whom the political way is not the one with which they are most comfortable. Still, the only way to deal with such tensions, squeak points and conflicts is on an issue-specific basis because they revolve around legitimate questions and legitimate differences of outlook and opinion. That is one reason why there must always be those whose necessary task it is to harmonize the differing views and interests of the various powers and others who can try to take a longer view of the system in which such tensions, squeak points and conflicts occur to ascertain that decisions are not made and actions taken on the basis of the most short-term of interests but are in harmony with the system itself and will serve to keep it working and, where possible, make it work better.

This raises another point. Democratic politics does have its own rules of operation which must be adhered to as faithfully as possible for the system to work. These principles and rules include the following:

1. Democratic politics, indeed, democratic life as a whole, is based upon the assumption of moral responsibility, the existence of a modicum of faith in one's fellows, and the extension of both to the exercise of substantial trust among those committed to a particular democratic system or bargain. When any of those three are diminished past certain red lines, the whole system unravels.

2. Those three elements in turn rest upon a sense that the system is based upon rules applied equally or with sufficient equity to all parties within the system so that no one is substantially disadvantaged by them, that equity is maintained, that the system remains open, and its processes remain sufficiently open for all who wish to make the effort to view and understand. So, for example, all political systems involve bargaining, but there is the difference between the "Byzantine" bargaining done as much as possible behind everyone's back and the open bargaining of the democratic process, so that not only are decisions known but so that they can be judged by sufficient knowledge of the processes through which they were reached and the actors involved in those processes.

An example of this was the conflict between Israel and its Zionist supporters in the diaspora and many of the diaspora community leaders, with the backing of many in their communities, regarding the emigration of Soviet Jews in the 1970s and 1980s. The former insisted that all efforts and Jewish funds be devoted to the aliya of Jews from the Soviet Union to Israel while the others held that all Jews should have freedom of choice and that the Jewish people should support their emigration to their lands of choice even if Israel were the nationally preferred designation to be encouraged. However, wherever one stood on this issue, one could perceive it as a legitimate conflict between Jews' different views of the Jewish future which could be legitimately settled only in the political arena, which it was. At first the idea of supporting any Jew to anywhere won out, but then as Jews began to opt for the diaspora, diaspora Jewish communities found out how expensive that was for them so their leadership joined with that of Israel in quiet collusion to send emigres to the Jewish state.

A somewhat different kind of conflict also involving the ex-Soviet Union has been the competition for place on the part of Jewish organizations in an effort to assist the revival of Jewish life. While Israel and the Zionists have taken their stance that in principle Jews in the Soviet Union should be encouraged to emigrate and not to revive Jewish life locally, their organized arms have recognized the necessity to be involved in the latter task. Meanwhile, the Jewish organizations in the diaspora, particularly the United States, have seen great institutional and public relations opportunities, as well as sharing the common Jewish goals of all, by becoming involved with the new communities in the ex-Soviet republics, so they have moved in, in various ways, often with more publicity than action.

In the meantime, the JDC has seen important new responsibilities for it on the ground in the former Soviet Union, providing the kind of assistance in community building as well as in other rescue and relief ways that have been its specialty. Moreover, all of this is further complicated by the institutional-based conflict between two putative allies: the Lishkat HaKesher, an arm of the State of Israel, and JAFI. In the meantime, the new local leadership emerging in the ex-Soviet republics have demanded to be treated as independent equals. They appeared at international Jewish gatherings and were very soon vocal participants, and back home they insisted on their prerogatives in their own communities.

At the present moment, none of these tensions have been resolved and many Jewish organizations outside of the Big Five and their constituents are running around Russia with their own agendas and no apparent interest in coordinating their efforts with others. In part, these tensions will also be resolved in the political arena, but here it may be possible to argue that the introduction of other structures and frameworks will also be helpful, if indeed that is possible.

Hence the first step in making a proper analysis is to distinguish between those tensions, squeak points, and conflicts which are inherent in any democratic or pluralist system and which need to be resolved through the political processes of that system and those which represent structural or constitutional weaknesses in a particular system. Even if the world Jewish polity is not and probably cannot be structured as a democracy in the fullest sense or even as a democratic state would be, because in the end it is based upon two very different pillars: a state with the boundaries and powers of coercion that it possesses and voluntary Jewish organizations in the diaspora whose adherents and activists come together on a voluntary basis and which has no really enforceable boundaries. In both, some people are more involved than others in the work of the polity, but in Israel Jews are citizens willy-nilly while in the diaspora most who associate with the polity do so out of choice.

Indeed, as the world becomes more open for Jews, so many Jews in both Israel and the diaspora, nominally or potentially within that polity, are unaware of its very existence or even of the existence of its components except in a vague way. Thus we must understand the nature of the polity with which we are working in order to effectively prescribe for its improvement.

The Jewish polity is a series of four concentric circles. In the center are those Jews who perceive themselves and act as part of the Jewish polity in what might be called "every day in every way." These range from the elected leaders of the government of Israel to non-Orthodox rabbis in the diaspora to soldiers doing their military service in the Israel Defense Forces who see their task as flowing from the fact that they are not only Israelis but Jews. Surrounding that circle is a second containing those Jews within the boundaries of the State of Israel who have chosen to be active in Jewish affairs. A third circle surrounding the second consists of those who are associated with relevant Jewish institutions and organizations either as members or as contributors, even though they may not be conscious of the existence of the Jewish polity and its major constituents. They are the ones who appear, ready to be mobilized when a war breaks out or some other crisis occurs. The fourth circle consists of those recognized or who perceive themselves as Jews, whether associated with Jewish institutions and organizations or not. They form a kind of potential force for mobilization. Beyond those four circles there are no clear boundaries but the circles fade out into the non-Jewish world.

In a situation like this built around concentric circles with vague boundaries separating each of them from the others and all of them from the rest of the world, the limits of democracy are to be found in the fact that with the partial exception of those living in the State of Israel, all acts of participation in the world Jewish polity are entirely voluntary and many people are not even aware enough to know that they could volunteer, nor do they care, seeing the polity as a congeries of separate institutions and organizations rather than a network with its own processes and rules. Thus the processes and the rules must be designed to bring about the most representative results feasible under the circumstances.

Even in that there are limits imposed by the model and the situation. In a sense this model is parallel to that for the Big Five organizations and the other organizations tied to them. That figure shows that on one hand there are close connections within the State of Israel and the Zionist movement and those parts of the organizations that are within either or both. On the other hand, we see a gap in the linking circles that is greatest between the WJC and the JDC and the others. Here we have some indication of where our efforts to change may need to be directed and the connections between those bodies, rather than being towards the center of the circle, come further out through the overlapping memberships of constituent bodies.

There is a second ring around the Big Five and at least the outlines, probably more, of a third. Both consist primarily of the regional, countrywide and local constituents or satellites of the Big Five, the most powerful of which are the United Jewish Appeal, the United Israel Appeal, and the Council of Jewish Federations, all connected with the local Jewish community federations in the United States. Somewhat less powerful are the representative boards and community-wide Magbiot affiliated with the WJC and KH respectively. They are in principle less powerful because they are less comprehensive, having separated the functions of representation and fundraising in almost all cases. Where there are links between the two, either formal or informal, or through shared leadership, they are often strong relative to their communities as the American Jewish complex, although because their communities are so much smaller they have less weight on the world Jewish scene except insofar as their leaders become the leaders of the WJC or Keren Hayesod.

Ranked slightly below them are the countrywide and local Zionist federations linked to the world Zionist political movements, which are in turn linked to the Israeli political parties within the Zionist camp, meaning the major Jewish parties. Their ranking is slightly lower because in all but two or three communities their countrywide and local influence is so much less and they are not treated as having much power by their Israeli counterparts either. It may be unfortunate that this is the position of the Zionist movement today, but even in such former bastions of Zionism as Latin America and South Africa there has been a continuing decline of the power and position of the Zionist movement and its countrywide and local outlets. Still, they can hardly be dismissed, especially since they play a rather direct role in the work of the Big Five through their representation in the WZO and the connections of their leaders to their respective Israeli political parties.

Thanks to the WZO, a few of the sectoral bodies are also included more or less in that third circle. Groups such as the World Maccabi Union and the World Sephardi Federation have been brought into the WZO and hence into JAFI, but their leadership mostly confines itself to sectoral issues and tasks both within the Big Five and in their own spheres.

An equally major achievement of the WZO was to bring in the world religious movements beyond the National Religious Party. The Conservative and Reform movements organized Zionist parties of their own and the world synagogue organizations of the major religious movements have become affiliated in other ways. On the surface this seems like a major step toward greater comprehensiveness and linkage in the world Jewish polity through the WZO. In fact, however, the penetration of the sense of affiliation and involvement is confined to the very top of the religious movements' leadership pyramids or to a very narrow sector that extends down out into countrywide and local bases. Nevertheless, the potential is there to expand that feeling of linkage and involvement, though there would be a political price to pay for it on the part of the other components of the network.

These are the linked bodies. There are others less formally linked, some of whom have informal ties and connections and overlapping leadership with those firmly planted in the network, others of which do not but go their own way, and still others of which not only do not seek such linkage but actually seek to go it alone, often in competition with the network, with varying degrees of success. The first group consists of the other great world and countrywide Jewish organizations that are principally specialists in one sector or another. The second consists of smaller world, regional, and countrywide organizations, all specialists with purposes that are usually more insulated from the politics of world Jewry. The third consists principally of Hassidic organizations such as Chabad and Satmar that for one reason or another reject the mainstream of the world Jewish polity and try to be comprehensive and worldwide in their own right as alternatives. To some extent Agudat Israel falls into that category, though its position is more ambivalent since it is connected closely with the political system of Israel and to the WJC and JDC for their specialized purposes. There is also the Simon Wiesenthal Center which was developed in an effort to become first the leading voice in matters pertaining to the Holocaust and then an independent voice "representing" the Jewish people in matters of anti-semitism, positions to which it has succeeded to some extent in reaching through excellent fundraising and public relations skills.

Whatever "anarchy" there may be in the Jewish world today stems from these other bodies to the extent that they "encroach" on the concerns of the mainstream bodies of the polity. Different strategies have to be pursued with regard to each group. In the case of the first group it may be possible to pull them more closely into the network. In the case of the second it may not be worth trying. In the case of the third it may be extremely difficult to pull them into the network per se, but partial and ad hoc cooperative arrangements can be made with some of them in certain cases. Since the steps necessary in the case of the second and the third group and perhaps even in the case of the first will involve expenditure of scarce funds, it may not be attractive to those now in the mainstream.

Another way to divide the organizations in these circles is by function. Three major groupings appear to be relevant: the specialists -- those that specialize in specific tasks; the partisans -- those whose primary mission is to express, mobilize, and provide support from particular political, religious, or ideological positions; and the independents -- both multi-functional and transpartisan.

Cut this way, we see a different pattern emerging. Needless to say, the partisan organizations are the main mobilizers of Jewish activity, but some of the functional specialists are better at mobilizing the funding. As to the independents, unless they are at the very top, they tend to be lost among the successful partisan and specialist organizations and institutions.

Dividing and Sharing Tasks and Functions: Three Periods

As we have seen, at no time has the modern or contemporary Jewish world had anything like a hierarchy of institutions and organizations or any authoritative source capable of allocating functions. Rather, the Jewish world has functioned more in the manner of a market. This is part of the special character of Jewish life and is a situation not likely to be altered in the foreseeable future. Nor are there many Jews who would like to alter it, either as a matter of general principle or when their special interests are involved. Nevertheless, as a market, the polity has worked rather well in sorting out tasks and functions, especially in recent years.

Three periods of development can be identified since the emergence of the first outlines of the modern world Jewish polity some 150 years ago. In the first period there were very few institutions and organizations so there was relatively little overlap, even when, in response to the governments of the states in which each was located, they had to be established as separate bodies and could not establish any formal links with similar institutions in other countries. The second period began when: a) those external restrictions were relaxed, and b) worldwide Jewish mass movements such as the World Zionist Organization, the Bund, or Agudath Israel emerged to absorb Jewish energy, confront common Jewish tasks, mobilize Jews for both, and compete with one another ideologically as well.

The second was the period of the greatest "anarchy" and "duplication." It persisted into the post-World War II period but basically came to an end as authoritative institutions and organizations emerged in the contemporary world to inaugurate the third period, first and foremost among them the State of Israel, but also in major diaspora communities. These institutions and organizations were authoritative within the market, not beyond it, but that was sufficient to lead to something of a sorting out of tasks and responsibilities or of tasks and responsibilities within shared functions. Those are the arrangements and that is the situation that we see around us today. All in all, it is a good beginning. Now is the time for the next steps.

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