“Israel to spend billions on initiative to bolster Jewish identity in Diaspora” … ?

I have not been the most active blogger of late. Life has been busy, B”H, including enjoying my (still somewhat new) job. But sometimes I feel I just have to get my voice out there, and this is one of those times. 

For anyone who did not see the article, apparently Israel is planning “to spend billions on initiative to bolster Jewish identity in Diaspora”  http://www.jpost.com/Jewish-World/Jewish-News/Israel-to-spend-billions-on-initiative-to-bolster-Jewish-identity-in-Diaspora-337959   Because (B”H) I am quite busy, I read the article, disagreed and felt annoyed, and then thought, “Well, what can I do?” (and since I am writing I will clarify that I thought this in a negative, sarcastic way), and went on with my life. Then I saw that the next day, my esteemed colleague Stephen Donshik not only shared the same opinion as me, but had actually taken the time to write about it and share his opinion on EJewish Philanthropy: http://ejewishphilanthropy.com/a-comment-on-the-prime-ministers-diaspora-initiative/comment-page-1/#comment-142844

Please read what Stephen has to say. He has expressed himself in a very eloquent way, and I certainly couldn’t have done better. Upon hearing about this new initiative, I felt the same response that he so clearly articulated: why are Israelis taking on the financing of Jewish identity programs in the Diaspora? I understand that developing Jewish identity outside of Israel is important but, to Stephen’s point, why are we as Israelis financing it? As we who work in the non-profit profession in Israel know, we are still working on breaking into the rather new Israeli philanthropic market for Israeli causes, which are still funded mainly by the US, Europe, and other countries with significant Jewish populations. The Israeli standard of living and the wage, on a global scale, is much lower than that of countries in the Diaspora such as the US. I agree entirely with Stephen … why exactly is it that Israel, a country that is still struggling and needs the help of many non-profit organizations (and therefore money from outside Israel to finance these programs), now financing Jewish identity in countries that have much more capital than we do? I agree with Stephen that it would be most effective for the communities themselves to address the problem of (lack of) Jewish identity. If they want more help from Israel, that’s one thing (sending more shlichim through the Jewish Agency, etc.). But our tax money? I do not agree.

My questions are: 

1) What do you think?

2) If you agree with me (and Stephen), do you think there is anything that we can do (especially those of us in the NGO sector in Israel) to express our opinions in a way that will be heard and considered?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts. 

Chava Ashkenazi

Jerusalem, Israel 

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