Gilad Kariv
Gilad KarivYonatan Sindel/Flash90
Chairman of the "Eretz HaKodesh" (Holy Land) movement in the WZO, Rabbi Pesach Lerner, last weekend appealed to Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, demanding she freeze the transfer of funds to a project for the establishment of a "Jewish renewal" department of the Ministry of Diaspora, which was approved to the extent of 60 million shekels from coalition funds of the Labor Party, although the department is to conduct activities in Israel and not in the Diaspora..

This comes after it was discovered that former Executive Director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism and Labor Party MK Gilad Kariv, served on the management board of the association while concurrently serving as a Knesset Member in 2021, raising concerns of a conflict of interest.

Ministry of Diasprora Affairs head, MK Nachman Shai, is a member of the Labor Party.

These findings were discovered last weekend as part of an investigation conducted by Ma'ariv investigative journalist Kalman Liebeskind.

The investigation shed light on Kariv's personal role in the project and serious flaws in its approval.

Kariv, who took an active role promoting the budget move, even took an active part in promoting a clause to the agreement and its approval within the state budget for 2022.

Kariv's connections with the association did not prevent him from dealing with the budget, nor did they prevent the chairman of the association from publicly admitting it by approving the project in a Twitter post, in which he wrote: "Thanks to those without whom the project would not have happened."

Besides the conflict of interests, Lerner points out that Kariv's involvement in the association was conducted improperly and in violation of existing regulations, with members of the association participating in discussions regarding the allotted funding prior to implementation of the move. "The association had inside knowledge of funds being allocating for its own use," writes Lerner.

In addition, the association was selected through a procedure of exemption from tendering and publication of tests, while its annual budget in previous years amounted to only about 1% of the scope of the entire project, and it even undertakes to raise tens of millions of shekels from independent sources. Strangely, the association was not required to provide any proof of its ability to manage and raise funds on such a scale.

MK Itamar Ben-Gvir, head of Otzma Yehudit party, also commented on the findings of the investigation. "Reform 'rabbi' Kariv provided a modest amount of 60 million shekels to the Reform movement so that they could supervise Israel's 'Jewish identity'. Imagine if it was the other way around and [haredim were providing themselves with government funding]. Those on the Left and mainstream media would be shocked by these news, but when it comes to them, nothing is off limits."

Kariv responded to the findings by trying to disassociate himself from his former organization: "When I was elected to the Knesset, I effectively ended my role on [its] executive board. Formally, the term ended at the end of 2021. The joint venture of the Diaspora Ministry was undertaken over the past year. The selection of the association and the [funding it received] were administered by the Ministry of the Diaspora without my involvement."

"I am very proud of my contribution to the government's decision to allocate a significant budget to...pluralistic Jewish renewal in Israel, and of my deep ties with various renewal organizations. For many decades, Israeli governments discriminated against secular and liberal Judaism in the allocation of resources, tenders, and joint ventures. All governmental bodies dealing with Jewish culture operate with a distinct Orthodox orientation, and I welcome the fact that, for the first time, government funding has also been given to other manifestations of Israeli Judaism, which are relevant to millions of Israelis."