The lay and professional leaders of UJC have raised sophistry to an art form. They are so great at it that if awards were given for sophistry, trust me, they would retire the trophy.
An example. last week, the Jewish Agency held its painful Board of Governors meetings in Jerusalem. At its Executive Committee meeting -- JAFI has a vibrant Executive -- there was heartfelt discussion of the impending multi-million dollar deficit, and the awful decisions that would have to be made to reduce staff and pare programs already stripped to the bone. While UJC's failure to even attempt to rally the federations to meet their overseas funding responsibilities, and its failure to deliver its projected cash to JAFI (and JDC) at year-end 2007 (or even to mount a lay driven cash collection effort) have been major factors in creating JAFI's deficits, Howard Rieger decided that the JAFI Executive was the appropriate place for him to advise JAFI"s leaders that UJC "...shares JAFI's pain" as UJC just went through its own wrenching process with its $3.2 million Budget cut. For reasons unclear, Rieger spoke about 2 Missions to Israel and the need to increase those (even as UJC will run no Missions in conjunction with the November GA; plans a Prime Minister's Mission only to New York City [!!]; and has totally imploded its Missions staff with the intent to "privatize" that program that was the gold standard for Israel fund raising experiences). Then he talked about how " as JAFI's financial resource development capacity...mirrors UJC's FRD capacity; so let's work more closely together." Huh? Just what is "UJC's FRD capacity?" It has no National Campaign Chair as of today; the lay leadership that at one time was the foundation on which its national FRD efforts were built has been deconstructed -- more lay leaders dedicated to raising more money have left or been dismissed by UJC's CEO and Chair than those who remain; the Development Budget has been picked clean to beef up efforts like UJC Israel that have borne no fruit. And UJC's leaders have constantly reiterated a mantra that the Annual Campaign is moribund; thereby demonstrating that they are out of touch with the reality that it is the Annual Campaign that funds our federations' ability to serve as the central communal addresses and central communal planning instruments. Finally. the Chair of Israel/Overseas announced in one of those periodic, hyperbolic UJC releases that Sheatufim is the most important philanthropic initiative in Israel today-- one with no philanthropic success and no relationship to JAFI or JDC. Sophistry.
UJC has asked JAFI (and, I assume JDC) for a 5 year Plan. But, what is UJC's one year Plan? UJC has proven itself very capable in defining the problems facing itself according to UJC's very limited leadership's own very limited perceptions. Yet, what is UJC's own plan for addressing even the problems/issues it has identified? To UJC, the seminal problem is its lack of money; to those of us who have observed what has happened at UJC over the past three years, our conclusion would be that its major problem...its seminal issue...is a lack of leadership capable of realizing that UJC's problems...its issues...should be those of the federation owners, not those that they may have chosen to identify in their "reorganization strategies" (which, apparently, have now been redefined in another act of sophistry, as UJC's "strategic plan"), so-called "principled actions" and a growing number of consultant studies. Sophistry.
On Monday one week ago, the members of JDC's Board received a copy of JDC's Chair's, Judge Ellen Heller's, Memo to JDC Employees expressing her "...sadness and regret as respected, capable and committed members of the JDC staff were laid off due to the dire financial situation..." faced by the organization. Contrast that with the UJC Board Chair's expressions at the time 38 UJC employees were terminated just four weeks ago -- not only did he express neither sadness nor regret, Joe Kanfer told the JTA that even if UJC had not been "forced" (my word, not his) to cut its Budget by 8%, it was planning to fire 38 employees; contrast Ellen's expression of compassion coupled with grace with Kanfer's expression of arrogance and indifference.
So, look up "sophistry" in any Dictionary and see whose pictures accompany the definitions.