24/6 UJC demonstrates, time and time again, that it just doesn't get it. Examples abound, too numerous to list. The errors in judgment, the refusals to listen to any other than their own voices and those of their sycophants, the insular nature of its leadership, compound error. It is an organization whose leaders are blind to their misjudgments and tone deaf. Just recently:
~ While soliciting (by e-mail -- the "UJC-preferred" method of raising dollars) for funds for the Israeli vicitms of Operation Case Lead, UJC's wonderful Development professional was unaware that as soon as the bombing halt began, Becki Caspi, UJC-Israel's Director ordered JAFI and JDC, our partners (to UJC, in name only), to cease all respite care to the victims of the War. Knowing their responsibilities as the federations' partners, JAFI and JDC continued their holy work. UJC...out of touch.
~ Speaking of Ms. Caspi. The Jerusalem Post reported on a speech UJC's Israel professional leader delivered stating unequivocally that Israelis need less social welfare assistance from the Diaspora as the Government of Israel is providing more and..."due to the economic crisis Israel (is) no longer at the forefront of American Jews' attention." Forget the chutzpah of drawing these conclusions from 7,000 miles distance; forget the inanity of a North American Jewish leader stating that "...it is easy to forget Israel." It is unacceptable in light of our history, and the height of institutional irresponsibility for any spokesperson of our national organization to cite the reduction in cash from American federations as evidence of a lack of support for Israel when the organization itself bears responsibility, at least in part. UJC just can never connect the dots...all of which lead back to itself.
Ms. Caspi, unbelievably: "Even people who understand the importance of Israel and have family here find it easy to forget Israel." As Chicago' Mayor Daley succinctly described Illinois' now former Governor: "cuckoo." How do these bizarre statements align with UJC's claims of commitment to "more dollars and more donors?" As a national Jewish leader wrote me: "We seem to have (an institutional) death wish and a corner on the ignorance market." Indeed. And these are the inmates running our institution.
~ You will recall the Post on the Strategic Planning Group Draft Recommendations. JDC and JAFI, after being called "partners," were told they were not to attend. Nonetheless, until warned off at the firestorm it would have caused, the UJC leaders had determined to invite Israeli philanthropist, Ronnie Dueck, to attend. Dueck, an Israeli leader of Sheatufim, the founder of Zionism 2000, and an UJC "favorite" -- invited; JAFI and JDC -- disinvited. UJC, out of touch.
~ When federation lay and professional leaders address the issues of the Strategic Planning Work Group Recommendations and UJC's bloated Budget directly to UJC's leaders and are told "we will not reduce out Budget" and "we won't take the SPWG Recommendations off the table" to be reworked in the interests of unity, the federation owners are being told by those whose organization the federations, not they, own that "what we decide is none of your business." No business can be permitted to run this way; yet, there you have it. As federation after federation announces that it either will not nor cannot support UJC's dues during these economic times, and UJC's leaders ignore them, the organization they ostensibly lead is placed more and more at risk. When Rieger, in his latest View, announces that 200 (from 155 federations) will attend this "critical FLI," presumably including UJC's professional staff, that meager number says more about UJC's growing lack of relevance than anything else. They do not hear; they do not listen.
~ Perhaps the most telling example of UJC's leaders' predisposition going into the FLI is the following from an article in today's Maariv. Quoting Mr. 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.
Aside from being wrong and wrong-headed, Kanfer's "let them eat cake" message to you is: "There's nothing to debate at the FLI. We've decided for you." What you may not know is that without authority Kanfer engaged two law firms to examine the Federations' and UJC/UIA's monitoring of the expenditure of donor's funds/federations' allocations to JAFI. Both firms found the monitoring processes and accountability to be at the highest standards of transparency and performance. What Joe doesn't want you to think about is that the American members of the Boards of JAFI and JDC are all leaders of their federations. Those are the leaders "deciding what to do with..." our allocations; those are the dedicated leaders -- lay and professional alike -- Joe just insulted and dismissed without cause. What a leader!!
It is this kind of behavior that is destroying UJC. Without any sense of reality, the current transient leadership of the Federations of North America are deconstructing, not building, Jewish unity. They ought to be ashamed of themselves, but they are not. Any value-added that UJC could provide is being destroyed along with the unity which these people should be building. It is an organization relevant only to its own leadership...all four or five of them.