Monday, May 17, 2010


Today leaders of the Joint, the Jewish Agency and JFNA will meet at 25 Broadway in a meeting scheduled weeks ago but now with an urgency and an agenda the catalyst for which was the Joint's roll-out of its threat to leave the system in its wake as it embarked on a federation-by-federation onslaught to change the "split" between JAFI/JDC in its favor. In so doing, the Joint would ignore the fact that it agreed with JAFI over the past months (for reasons clear only to debaters and lawyers and Joint leaders, JDC would like you to believe they have been "burdened" by the current split since a 1952 agreement, even as the Joint has entered into agreement after agreement with the same split since that time) to essentially retain the split of core at current percentages while JFNA (which was to be solely a mediator), chose to rewrite the deal in part to protect ORT!! Bizarre? Yes. Especially when one looks at the realities of current distributions to JAFI and JDC from America.

So, now, JFNA will have to rely once again on Large City Federation Executives to pull its chestnuts from the fire. Some form of real advocacy may emerge and JFNA leaders will no doubt try to save face by imposing a "global planning table" (for which they have budgeted $250,000 for 2011 for no apparent purpose) on JAFI/JDC. All this while, as John Ruskay has pointed out, the Joint is in reality already the recipient of 1/3 of federation allocations when designated allocations are included. Perhaps at the meeting someone will point out that even as the Joint agreed as a condition precedent to the meeting taking place to remove the most threatening "conditions" in its letters to select federations from the "table," it is, in reality, and has been, implementing them with on-going FRD efforts in multiple federations, many of which are just too weak today to push back.

There is another reality that won't be discussed. In 2005 as I realized that the then UJC was not going to engage in resource development action or advocacy for Israel and overseas needs, I met with JDC leaders at the Joint offices in New York. There I plead with them to join JAFI in a continental advocacy effort -- one in which the two organizations would ask UJC to join and, if not, the two organizations together would go forward. We had a good discussion; the leaders were extremely gracious. Weeks later the Joint advised me that they did not wish to join JAFI in such an effort but wished to continue to await UJC meeting its responsibilities. I was disappointed but not surprised; and I was frustrated as I already knew that UJC's leaders were not going to meet those responsibilities (or, for the next five years, any others as to the Joint, JAFI or, for that matter, the federations).

Is it too late now, after a decade of neglect, for JFNA to meet its obligations> Even if propped up by Chicago, New York, Cleveland and others, I fear that that is the circumstance. I hope I am wrong.


No comments: