Saturday, February 27, 2010


Spring is in the air...somewhere; time to catch up on a few things:

  • As communities, we seem to be unable to predict that an appearance by an Israeli leader on a college campus, unless well-managed, will result in the irrational, unthinking, ugly protests recently experienced by Israel's Ambassador to the United the University of California Irvine. Have we lost our capacity for managing events? Do we not know what is happening on our campuses -- and, if we know, what is the nature of our investments there?
  • We should be exceptionally proud that as at 12 February the federation system had raised in excess of $4.8 million in the United States and $1.2 million in Canada (which will be matched by the Government of Canada). This collective support is what ennobles us as a continental community. Does it take disasters such as the Haiti earthquakes or Hurricane Katrina to rouse us from our slumber these days?
  • Something that won't make us proud. In this age of austerity and worse for so many, the NYT reported that a New York lawyer -- in fact the lead bond counsel for the new Yankee Stadium financing -- had "reserved the stadium for his son's bar mitzvah this June. Must have lots of friends, huh? The date is now complicated by the scheduling of a pro boxing match there for the same Shabbat... yeah, at leasdt the Yankee Stadium bar mitzvah is on Shabbat. As the Times suggested: "The 30,000 or so fans expected at the bout would possibly not enjoy seeing a montage photos on the scoreboard."
  • We may be cynical in North America, but nothing matches the cynicism of our mishpacha in Israel if a recent poll announced by the ZOA is to be believed. As the ZOA put it so "artfully": "A new poll has shown that an overwhelming proportion of Israelis -- 79% -- believe that the possibility of the Jewish state reaching a peace agreement with the American-backed Palestinian Authority is next to zero" -- culled from something called the Israel National News. Tough to tell from the ZOA press release who conducted the poll, how many Israelis were polled, "risk of error," etc. But, take it for what it is worth.
  • The Jewish Agency moved its February Board of Governors meeting from St. Petersburg, Russia, back to Jerusalem when, literally two weeks prior to the meetings, the Russian Government decided, with no reason set forth, that JAFI would not be permitted to hold the meetings within Russian territory. Somehow, to at least one critic, this was a crucial "blow" to new Chair of the Executive Natan Sharansky; I saw it more as a direct financial blow to those of us who had booked passage to St. Petersburg directly from our home communities and had to rebook and, of course, as a blow to the Russian economy.
  • I was saddened and bemused at the "defense" mounted by the New Israel Fund to the "attacks" by a new organization, Im Tirtzu, "suggesting" or "alleging" that NIF-funded organizations had volunteered information used in the discredited Goldstone Report. Its new CEO, Dan Sokatch, offered that this has been a "boon for NIF." (The Fundermentalist, 2/12/10) Sure, "a boon."
  • I had the opportunity to work with the three senior professionals whose departure from JFNA was announced to the Board on the 16th and to the public one day later. They were long-serving and caring professionals. Probably just a coincidence, but, and you won't believe this, I am told that on the day these three of his "trusted lieutenants" were told that they "...will not be part of (the JFNA) go-forward team," he whose name shall no longer appear on these pages was visiting 25 Broadway. Wouldn't you know it?! If true, pretty scary.


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