Russia is threatening to ban a major Jewish nonprofit agency that helps people emigrate to Israel from operating in the country, a sign of the Kremlin’s deteriorating relationship with Israel and of the far-reaching fallout from the war in Ukraine.
Russia’s Justice Ministry is seeking to liquidate the Russian branch of the nonprofit, the Jewish Agency for Israel, which operates in coordination with the Israeli government, according to a notice from a Moscow court.
The article notes:
The Jewish Agency, founded nearly a century ago as the Jewish Agency for Palestine, was instrumental in helping establish Israel in 1948, and has facilitated the emigration of millions of Jews from around the globe.
This is not true. It was originally founded in 1908 as the Palestine Office, part of the Zionist Organization – in Hebrew, המשרד הארץ-ישראלי, HaMisrad HaEretz Yisraeli, “Office for the Land of Israel.”
In 1921, the name was changed to the Jewish Agency for Palestine, in Hebrew “הסוכנות היהודית לארץ ישראל”, HaSochnut HaYehudit L’Eretz Yisra’el, literally the Jewish Agency for the Land of Israel.”
Here is a pin that the Jewish Agency used to distribute:
Apparently, the original name in Hebrew stuck for a while though, as this 1936 letterhead from Berlin shows:
Here is an immigration certificate for a lucky Jew from Poland in 1938 that uses both the “Jewish Agency for Palestine” and “Palestine Office” names, but in Hebrew it is always Eretz Yisrael.
After the War of Independence, it was renamed again, to the Jewish Agency for Israel – but in Hebrew, there was no reason to rename it.
Because before 1948, the translation of “Palestine” was “The Land of Israel.”
Today’s “Palestine” has nothing at all to do with Palestine before 1948. Every map, every reference to it was always to the Land of Israel (or, in English, the Holy Land.) Palestinian Arabs did not want to be called “Palestinian” – but Jews proudly did.
Palestinian Arabs, at least through the 1920s, also had a name for the land. But it wasn’t “Palestine.” It was “Suria El Jenobia” – Southern Syria.
The only people who wanted an independent Palestine were the Jews. And the Jewish Agency, an organization hated by anti-Zionists, helps prove it.