At some point you just have to admire the tenacity of UJC's Chair and CEO. Their need for adulation is unceasing and their engagement in self-congratulatory expressions never stops either. Such is the case with GA08. The CEO finally got around to congratulating himself (and others) on the GA in the December 2 Howard's View. Great stuff, really. The number of attendees for all of you still interested, ends at 5,100 (down from 5,479 but way up from 2,500). Were that true, that would be fantastic.
Each of you who was there has your own sense of the success of GA08 (or the lack thereof) but I want to focus on the congratulatory note in the View. Apparently lacking any other trustworthy source, the CEO quotes, who else, his Board Chair. Joe Kanfer, Chair of the UJC Board of Trustees, said this was "a truly great GA" that not only inspired people, but was staged despite major budget restraints...These guys will never learn that you can't propel yourself forward by patting yourself on the back.
At the GA08 we convened a Board meeting of United Israel Appeal. It was a dinner meeting to transact some business, install Bruce Arbit as the new Chair of UIA/UJC, honor the leaders responsible for the historic effort to achieve and sustain the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Grant and bid me adieu after my two terms as Chair. We were honored by the United States Ambassador to Israel and by the presence of over 300 of our UIA family, friends, federation lay and professional leaders, and staff. (OK, so there were 140 guests but, in the spirit of UJC's "count" of GA "attendees," isn't a guy entitled to a bit of gross overstatement?)
There was a beautiful tone to the evening -- one of celebration of common cause. I was not only gratified by the turn-out, and the presence of those with whom I have shared so much, but as well with the fact that Kathy Manning attended after, I have been told, she and other UJC Officers were "directed" by the Board Chair to stay away. (The fact that Kanfer did so -- thereby refusing to honor Bruce, to whom he and Rieger have promised their unequivocal support -- is merely a further demonstration of the institutional pettiness with which UJC has been led these past two years.)
At the onset of my UIA Chairmanship, I. too, was expressly promised UJC's lay and professional leaders' support. More critically, I asked for assurance that UIA would be consulted on all matters related to the Jewish Agency for Israel, UIA's "exclusive agent" for purposes of our system's allocations to JAFI. No sooner was the 2006 Los Angeles GA over, no sooner was "the ink dry" on this "agreement," than Rieger and Kanfer were off attempting to preempt UIA's JAFI role time and again. In March 2007, on the cusp of the issuance of the infamous Organizational Strategy Howard called me to offer a "head's up," as he called it, and advised me of the intended marginalization of the annual campaign within the new structure. I objected -- strongly -- not knowing until I read the Strategy that UIA's roles were intended to be delimited as well. No consultation, no discussion -- just dictation. And when I objected, the process of "wexlerization" began -- a process that continued through the UIA Dinner meeting at GA08.
All of us recognize today, as I did for two years, that UJC's Chair and CEO have chosen a secrecy strategy worthy of the Kremlin under Stalin and his henchmen. The attempted actions directed at UIA were merely the harbinger of actions to come that affect us all. As bad, the actions taken in the shadows, have painted a picture of an UJC out of touch and out of control.
It's time for major change imposed from ownership upon leadership. Long past time.