Well, sort of...
In a JTA interview Rieger attacked "...unnamed sources who bash us..." and, then, yesterday, at a horrific meeting between Rieger, Kanfer and the Large City Chairs and Executives he attacked, among others, "...anonymous naysayers" blaming them for UJC's failings. So, as my name is attached to this Blog, I have chosen to consider Howard's statements as an "endorsement" even as I know that was certainly not his intent.
At that vital event, I have been told, the lay and professional leaders (those present and by phone) of the largest of UJC's owners were attacked by Kanfer in strident tones for the drop-off in donors in addition to Rieger blaming "anonymous naysayers" for what may have gone wrong at UJC, not that he would ever agree that anything has. The meeting was characterized by shouting and a strong negative tone. Some leaders questioned whether the national system can survive the decisions of a few federations today which appear to be walking away from collective action and collective allocations to pursue their own designated allocations. When the communities most need a united system to deal with the economic issues confronting all of us, we have a system deconstructing from both the top down and the bottom up. It's a tragedy.
What is needed now -- not tomorrow, now -- is the equivalent of an Emergency Unity Governance of UJC. An overlay on the current governance of a coalition of federation leaders who will steer this ship during these emergency times focusing all of UJC... all... on the areas of greatest needs. This new governance would remain in place for the duration of the economic crisis and would be chaired by a new face and professionally staffed by a charismatic chief executives capable of bringing together all the creativity of our system in a unified and unifying way.
At the Large City Chairs and Executives meeting the leaders of the largest communities experienced first hand the resistance of the current UJC lay and professional leadership to accountability and responsibility. They have kept the system in the dark for too long, it's past time for some light to be shed and shed immediately. We all know that things other than mushrooms grow better if exposed to the light...well, not all of us know.
As the GA came to a close, a Plenary dedicated to Israel's financial picture was highlighted by Stanley Fischer's, the Governor of the Bank of Israel, brilliant if daunting presentation followed by Bibi Netanyahu's strong presentation of his entire political platform. The Netanyahu presentation (over 40 minutes' worth) sent the Plenary timetable into overtime before a "surprise guest," a "magician of the mind," entertained.
Less than one hour later, at the Closing Plenary, we heard from Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni whose message of tikkun olam was both heartfelt and a dramatic contrast to the former PM. After Livni spoke there was the beginning of the Closing Plenary exodus from the Hall which was too bad for those departing early for they missed Howard Rieger's stirring address focused on collective responsibility and Howard's dreams for our system's future.
And so GA08 came to a close with Joe Kanfer changing the number once again -- 4579 Attendees. WOW!!