Thursday, December 3, 2009


Over the last two weeks, time and again we have heard or read the phrase "...we are taking the high road on this" from leaders of JAFI, JDC and The Federations of North America so often that the organizations they represented kind of bled into each other. (What an idea, huh?) Everybody is on that "high road" which, of course, means only one thing -- ain't no one on the low road. This merely proves, at least to me, that too few know what (or where) the road is.

JDC thinks it "took the high road" by stating its intent to go it alone, to refuse to consummate the agreement it had already reached with JAFI. JAFI "took the no road" by telling The Jewish Federations of North America that the issues with JDC were JFNA's problem. And The Jewish Federations of North America "took the high road" by letting JDC and JAFI know that unless those two organizations reached agreement on how non-designated federation allocations were to be divided, the funds would be distributed to the two partners according to their prior agreement.
So here's how I see it: JDC -- "low road"; JAFI -- "no road"; and The Jewish Feds of N.A. -- "really high road." And the issues raised by JDC -- ignored. Of course, the facts suggest that the JAFI/JDC contract issue could have and should have been resolved many months ago when the parties first reached agreement. Then, the parties themselves had reached agreement on every issue in an agreement with a five year term. On their review, what I have heard was that a single major federation objected to the length of the agreement -- thought a five year term agreed to by the affected parties too long. And from there...we are here. Why did that single federation substitute its judgment for the parties? We will probably never know. I'll speculate that it was purely a power play, an act of hubris. Probably believe that they (or was it just "he"?) were "taking the high road." Doesn't everyone?

And, then there is the road least taken -- the road that one takes a chance on in order to succeed. The one that requires risk but offers the potential for incredible rewards. Who is taking that one?

And, from there, we are here. To the high road, to the low road, to the no road. I think it was my philosopher-in-chief, Yogi Berra, who observed "if you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there." Wanna bet?



Anonymous said...

Oh! ye'll take the high road and
I'll take the low road,
And I'll be in Scotland afore ye;
But me and my true love
Will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.

Steve Schweger of JDC Says:
“Specifically in the absence of adequate resources, we have been forced to curtail or eliminate food, medicine, and other material needs to 60,000 poor elderly Jews.”

The Facts Say:
2009 JDC FSU Budget $113,501,969
2010 JDC FSU Budget $111,231,014

$2,270,955 reduction to feed 60,000?? Must be feeding 3.3 million??

Schweger Says:
“In addition, we have no resources to serve 20,000 poor Jewish children and their families. We would be derelict in our responsibilities to our constituents if we did not seek more resources for them.”

Facts Say:
2010 JDC Africa Budget $7, 248,113

Does “dereliction of duty” include slandering JAFI and JFNA??

Schweger Says:
“The current split of 75 percent for JAFI and 25 percent for JDC came into being in 1952 when Israel was ready to accept large numbers of immigrants and JDC had declining welfare roles in Europe as a result of the closing of the DP camps. The world has changed significantly and the funding formula must reflect this new reality.”

Facts Say:
JAFI has resettled over 3 million Olim. Need to check with the JDC Center for International Migration and Integration as experts on such issues.

Dose JDC need to find a mission??

Schweger Says:
“I refer to the other Jews - those who do not live in Israel or North America… I am not trying to be a party spoiler, but 20 percent - one fifth! -of the Jewish people today live outside of the US and Israel. “

…The elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union today are the poorest Jews in the world, and their situation is painfully serious. We struggle to feed them, to keep them warm, to supply their vital medicines - paid for in part by declining American Jewish charitable funds.“

“… Can we - the more comfortable, more secure 80% of the Jewish people - cut off the neediest 20% of our brethren? “

Facts Say:
JDC 2010 FSU Budget $111,231,014
JDC 2010 Israel Budget $130,117,391

Apparently for JDC Israel is more important than the “neediest 20% of our brethren”

The following JDC Israel programs appear to be more important to JDC than feeding poor Jews:
Rebuilding the Galilee New Initiative
Supporting Communities in the Southern Conflict Zone
Programs for Children and Youth At Risk
JDC-ESHEL: Services for the Elderly
Employment and Entrepreneurship
Immigrant Integration
Israelis with Disabilities
Volunteerism and Philanthropy

Is it appropriate to ask that JDC re-set it own priorities before it slams every other organization in the system.

To quote Jonah Goldberg
“…if moral hypocrisy is saying what values people should live by while failing to follow them yourself, intellectual hypocrisy is believing you are smart enough to run other peoples' lives when you can barely run your own.”

At the very moment that Jewish Federations of North America is working assiduously to rebuild its overseas engagement through its traditional partners, just at the moment when JFNA has brought the partners together at the same table to talk and work out their issues, just as new leadership works to bring back to life a damaged national system, along comes JDC and throws a stumbling block in JFNA’s path. Blind siding JFNA, with no warning, after sitting in the same room meeting cooperatively, JDC sends out a missive of triumphant, self righteous, factually incoherent cry for help.

JDC does wonderful work. JDC needs to be proud of its budget and partners. But I have a news flash – Jews are not starving to death anywhere on this planet. JDC will have to find its real mission and stop touting hunger as its raison d’ĂȘtre.

But me and my true love
Will never meet again

RWEX said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for your Comment. My hope is that JDC leaders will respond. We'll republish this Comment as a Post next week.

Anonymous said...

While both JAFI and JDC do amazing work for the Jewish people, worthy of our Federation dollars, JDC has a better track record/image in working well and playing with others both in terms of NGO's in Israel, where their footprints grows from year to year, and individual Federations in the US. JAFI has been downright shoot in the foot bad at its organizational relationship building. This is not a comment on the quality or priority of either agency's work but the frustration many have felt over the years in regards to JAFI's "political" obtuseness and JDC's "political" smarts. You might want to address that issue as well Richard at some point.