As one of my friends reminded me a few weeks ago -- before the recent outbreak of the conversion bill in Israel -- we used to tell our donors that our Government and Israel measured our commitment as American Jews to Israel in part based upon the achievement of our annual fund raising and our communal allocations to the Jewish State. If that is still the case, just think of how we are thought of in those precincts today.
In Fantasyland, our leaders send urgent letters to the Prime Minister but the reality of our impact is quite different -- in the reality of today, were it not for the relationship between the PM and JAFI's Chair of the Executive, Natan Sharansky, JFNA would have no impact at all. (I would add that there is one professional at JFNA with access to the Prime Minister, Yitzchak Shavit, the Executive Vice Chair of UIA and when Itzik retires, there will be none.) And JFNA should continue to piggyback on JAFI in this "process." (There are, of course, Federation CEOs with real access -- you probably know who they are -- from federations which demonstrate their continuing commitment to Israel through their Israel and Overseas allocations.
As one terrific North American leader asserted to me earlier today, if we as the Jews of North America had any real influence in Israel today, we wouldn't be pleading for "dialogue" on the conversion issue, we would be asserting in no uncertain terms (without apologizing for our "strong language" as JFNA has) that the pending Conversion Bill must be withdrawn from Knesset consideration before any dialogue can begin. But we don't have that clout -- we have allowed it to dissipate away by our national organization's ineptitude.
One doesn't begin "negotiations" with pleas for inclusion...inclusion must be presumed. But that presumption must be based on reality. To speak for the 6,000,000 Jews of the United States and Canada, you must stand for sacred and historic values and principles. And here we are today -- with a JFNA whose leaders neither know nor comprehend them.
Strong letter to follow, of course.