Saturday, January 10, 2009


Two "Commentators" to the Posts on this Blog -- "Leslie" and the unflappable "longtimeobservor" -- have been stirred to write, under their pseudonyms, of course, thoughtful objections to my opinions. While we would all respect their reactions far more if they had sufficient courage in their convictions to identify themselves as I do on each Post, I value their Comments only a little less so than I do those of you -- federation lay and professional leaders around the Continent -- who write and call me in great numbers typically as aghast as I am with what UJC has been turned into.

It is extremely troubling to me that one who knows our system and is concerned about it, as is "Leslie," could write that Israel's war against terror is but "one of Israel's discretionary wars." Descriptive phrases like that discredit and demean you and your comments, Leslie. (And, by the way, after the federations demanded action, UJC endorsed a $10 million emergency assistance effort, to which my federation and New York's each committed $1,000,000 (+/-). Milwaukee $100,000, Cleveland $300,000 (+/-), Houston and others -- yours, Leslie, if you had your way $0, I guess.) But, many of Leslie's observations have been spot on. and all are appreciated.

The ever-lurking "longtimeobserver" continues his well-articulated sycophancy when it comes to all things UJC. I don't pretend that all things are wrong at UJC as any reader would recognize and it is always a great beta test to put an opinion out there and see what the reaction is. I just don't believe that two people with any understanding of collective responsibility can look at UJC ten years after the merger and not conclude that we have wasted $400,000,000 (+/-) on an organization that is currently being run like a failed family business.

I have been overwhelmed by the e-mails I have received from so many of you expressing not only agreement with my Post on "...Corrupt Practices" but who have told me that their federations will no longer transmit dollars through UJC but directly to UIA and JDC. As one who loves our federation system, I wish that UJC were what we had envisioned it would be and would, thereby, be worthy of the trust so necessary as the recipient of our funds.

Bottom line, as anyone who Blogs knows, the Blogger has the ability to block Comments in their entirety. I have not. I have merely asked that those who Comment demonstrate the courage of their convictions by providing their name and e-mail address. Leslie? LTO? "Courage of your convictions?" Or is that being "shrill" and inconsiderate?

Shabbat shalom.


1 comment:

Leslie said...

So you're going to make me anti-Israel because I said this war in Gaza is discretionary? None of my opinions count? Come on. You're better than that.

Look, it's discretionary (which doesn't mean it is unjustified!) in that it is not a war of survival. One of the reasons Israel is justified in going after Hamas -- the eight-plus years of enduring Hamas rockets -- is also precisely a reason it's a discretionary campaign.

I'm not opposed to the call for $10 million. But I think there's a reflex you and others have that is getting old and will hopefully disappear (it will be retired soon enough, whether those with the reflex like it or not). It's the reflex that 1. proclaims some sort of pro-Israel purity defined by agreement with you; and 2. thinks sending money is the American Jewish answer to war.

Let me be clear -- I am not against the $10 million. I just wonder if it's premature. I just wonder if we can to redirect existing resources to new and higher priorities such as helping the people of southern Israel.

Our agencies and communities are suffering in this economy. What are we telling them? Re-prioritize. Make do with less. Merge. Find efficiencies.

How do we define what's an emergency and what isn't? I'm not saying there aren't needs. What I am saying is that especially in these difficult economic times there aren't a lot of financial resources -- and we'd better husband what we have.

It is also a fact, whether you or I like it or not, that our American Jewish community is divided on this war. Four significant groups, Israel Policy Forum, Brit Tzedek V'Shalom, Americans for Peace Now and J Street, have publicly opposed this war. (I do not call them "peace groups" in as much as I and many others are for peace and we disagree with those groups.)

I know you love Israel. So do I. But the days when community big shots decide who is in and who is out of the pro-Israel tent are numbered. Today most young (under 45) Jews don't get what you and I instinctively feel about Israel and our responsibilities as Jews. To believe otherwise is to delude yourself. And that doesn't make these younger Jews inferior. Just different -- which is the point of the American Jewish community of the future; it will be different than the past you rightfully glorify but cannot replicate in the future.

The beauty of intelligent discourse is that we needn't agree with everything someone says in order to agree with some of what someone says. My comments on the Gaza war have nothing to do with my comments on UJC and the federation system. But if you find all my comments discredited, that is your right.

I think what I am sensing, Mr. Wexler, is that I hurt your feelings when I warned you were getting shrill. I apologize. You have taken this personally and I did not mean that you as a human being are shrill. I don't know you. I am not here to attack anyone personally. I did mean that your one-track attacks on Rieger/Kanfer were getting shrill and detracting from the overall thrust of your comments on the system, with which I am largely in agreement.

As to my anonymity, please spare me your indignation. Does my name really matter? Would revealing my identity really be an act of courage? Think about it. I am not making personal attacks cloaked in a secret identity. I am sharing perspectives that would probably get me fired or ostracized. Hey, you're ready to disregard my opinions simply because of how I defined the Gaza war. 'Nuff said.

Anyway, with all due respect, I get to decide what is courage for me.

Do you really want to attack people who make substantive comments on your blog? How on earth does that move the ball forward (which is precisely why I question your incessant attacks on Rieger/Kanfer -- you made your point, now how does it move the ball forward?)?