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Organizers: Part V: The Enablers
By Sarah Kronenberg - January 11, 2009


Libya Greets Jewish Agency 1951
The idea of a special agency to assist Jews to immigrate and settle in their new Jewish homeland was first debated and discussed during the First Zionist Congress in 1897. When the Balfour Declaration accelerated the process the idea became crucial to making this dream a reality. At the end of the First World War the new League of Nations endorsed this concept and created the Jewish Agency for Palestine as part of its mandate for the new protected territory. From 1921 until 1948 the Jewish Agency was a quasi-governmental organization that served the administrative needs of the Jewish community with its leadership was elected by Jews from all over the world by proportional representation.

The primary purposes of the Jewish Agency were to facilitate Jewish immigration to Palestine, purchase land for use by the settlers and to oversee the general operations of the Zionists in Palestine. The Jewish Agency also served as a partnership between the World Zionist Organization and the rest of the world and was recognized as the official representative of the Jewish community and world bodies like the League of Nations. It issued immigration certificates supplied by the Mandate Authority and assisted with both the resettlement of new immigrants and the building of new settlements. Over time it established and operated schools and hospitals and was responsible for the creation of Haganah which later became the Israel Defense Force after independence.

The Jewish Agency also played a major role in helping Jews escape persecution in Europe, particularly in Germany after Hitler's rise to power in 1933 and facilitated the emigration of over 50,000 German Jews to Palestine under a special transfer agreement that even allowed them retain some of their assets by transferring them to Palestine as German export goods.
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