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Zionist Youth Movements Say They Face Financial Ruin

Jan. 13, 2010

World Zionist youth movements are facing a financial crisis which could lead to their imminent collapse, leaders of all major such movements told the Knesset this week in a plea for government intervention.

If this happens, "hundreds of thousands of Jewish youth will lose their only significant link to the State of Israel and to their Jewish identity," a coalition of chairpersons from Habonim Dror, Hashomar Hatzair, World Bnei Akiva, Maccabi World Union and other movements wrote to the Knesset.

Since the Jewish Agency drastically cut funding a year ago, many youth movements tried to weather the recent financial crisis but are now running out of money.

According to Bnei Akiva records, the Jewish Agency's education department cut its budget for World Zionist movement emissaries from Israel to Diaspora communities from NIS 5.6 million to 3.2 in 2008, and reduced its funding of about a million shekels for activity outside Israel by 80 percent.

On Wednesday, several chairpersons spoke during an emergency session at the Knesset Education Committee concerning the current situation of World Zionist youth movements - supported by several dozen members from the U.K., South Africa, South America and Russia.

The government only distributes roughly one million shekels distributed among 17 movements, "with each receiving something like NIS 80,000 annually," Zvika Klein of Bnei Akiva told Anglo File.

The education committee's chairman, Zevulun Orlev, said he would sign other parliamentarians on a petition to the government to allocate more funds to world Zionist youth movements.

"No one will doubt that traditionally the vast majority of people who chose to make aliyah out of ideology have been youth movement graduates," the chairpersons' letter read. "Without the world Zionist youth movement, these people would not be living here, and that's a fact."