After Chairman Kanfer's quote in yesterday's Maariv began to be circulated -- including in yesterday's Blog Post Tone Deaf, UJC professionals went into high panic mode. Separately, the CEO and the UJC Israel Director sent out emergency Memos to JAFI and JDC leadership decrying the article as, among other things, "stupid, sloppy." Also "[T]he article is a total misrepresentation." Sure. So what exactly brought them to this state of froth? Maybe this quote from Kanfer:
"For decades the contributors were prepared to raise money and transfer it to the Jewish Agency and the Joint and allow them to do with the money whatever they wished. Today the atmosphere has changed and the donors want to be genuine partners and enjoy greater involvement. We have a responsibility towards the donors, and that is to ascertain that the work is being done in the best possible fashion in return for their money. "We are no longer prepared to transfer the money and let them decide what to do with it", declared the Chairman of the United Jewish communities the billionaire Joe Kanfer.
Funny, when the Maariv article appeared, UJC issued no denials -- perhaps, because it appeared in the Hebrew editions. Only when the article was translated into English and into distribution within JDC/JAFI were the Keystone Kops Korps driven to their shouted denials of the quote's, the article's, authenticity. Rieger closed his panic-driven "not us" stating in an e-mail: "I wanted you to know about the reality of a stupid, sloppy article. And we have the evidence to prove it." Sure, "the evidence." Howard, send the "evidence" and we'll print it right here, verbatim.
Becky Caspi, barely more rational: "The reporter misrepresented Joe and this piece is way off base...Our communications team is working with Maariv to get a correction printed." How was Joe "misrepresented" -- maybe in referring to him as "billionaire Joe Kanfer?" How else? Becky, send the "correction" and we'll print it right here, verbatim.
In the meantime, reread the quote "attributed" to Kanfer. Reads like Kanfer, sounds like Kanfer. Many of us have heard him say almost if not exactly the same things repeated in Maariv. It's Joe...to a T. So, send us the "evidence" that it was not. We'll hold our collective breath.
AN ADDENDUM: This just in...Becky Caspi, UJC-Israel, has denied the quotes attributed to her in the Israeli press as well. Claims there were no press "in the room" when she spoke and that she never said what she was quoted as saying. (See, Post, Tone Deaf) If we understand this correctly, the Israeli press, according to Rieger, Kanfer and Caspi, just makes things up. Right.
A FURTHER ADDENDUM: To be certain I get this right, New York UJA-Federation's Steve Donshik, who attended the Pradler Conference, corrected the quote attributed to Becky Caspi. What she said was: "Even people who understand the importance of Israel and who have family here find it easy to forget Israel, a situation which we must ensure does not continue." Maybe Becky thinks this is somehow "better." And, then, Steve points out the further context that this quote arose during a discussion of the drop in federation allocations. Unmentiuoned is UJC's failure to advocate for those allocations under the current leadership.