Attorney Ziv Maor of the Im Tirtzu organization said the Wexner Foundation has “a sharp left-wing bias and encourages public officials to undermine the orders of the ministers.”
By Josh Plank, World Israel News
The Prime Minister’s Office announced a freeze on its employees’ participation in Wexner Foundation programs during a heated debate in the Knesset’s Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee on Wednesday.
“We are pleased with the decision to regulate extra-governmental bodies and to regulate programs of this kind, and the PMO’s Director General has asked to advance this important regulation with our office’s participation,” said Tamar Peled-Amir of the Prime Minister’s Office.
“He asked to update you that until the regulation of contacts with extra-governmental bodies in continuing education programs of this kind, he asks to freeze the participation of his employees (in such programs),” she said.
The debate to “examine the state’s relations with the Wexner Foundation, which exist in violation of the law and proper management,” was initiated by Member of Knesset Shlomo Karhi of the Likud party.
Each year, the Wexner Foundation selects up to 10 public sector directors and leaders from Israel to attend Harvard Kennedy School in Massachusetts with the goal of providing “Israel’s next generation of public leaders with superlative training in public management and leadership development.”
However, Attorney Ziv Maor of the Im Tirtzu organization, one of the program’s critics, said the foundation has “a sharp left-wing bias and encourages public officials to undermine the orders of the ministers.”
Karhi called the U.S.-based Wexner Foundation “a foreign and problematic foundation” and said that “the financial and ideological loyalty endangers the country.”
“My goal is that the State of Israel and each of its authorities will not send civil servants into the unknown, to a foreign foundation with undemocratic and even anarchistic influence,” Karhi said.
He also questioned the integrity of the Wexner Foundation’s dealings with former Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Between 2004 and 2006, the foundation paid Barak $2.3 million for a “study” never published on a topic never revealed.
Karhi also pointed out the foundation’s ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who served as a trustee of the foundation from 1992 to 2007.
“How dare you say [Epstein] only handled the documents? The foundation said he did not donate even one dollar, but according to information in our hands, he donated at least $9.5 million,” said Karhi.
Attorney Maor said, “The cooperation between the government and the foundation is illegal because it provides public servants with gifts amounting to millions of shekels in violation of the Gift Law. After more than 30 years of this program, the time has come to put an end to it.”