Wednesday, April 13, 2011
IT'S GAME OVER!!
Several months ago, after listening carefully to the JFNA "leaders" answers to the federations' wholly appropriate questions during the January Board Retreat, I concluded, as I then wrote, that JFNA would use the so-called "Global Planning Table process" to ultimately destroy the collective system that the federations had constructed over the past 50 years. My fear was that I would be proved correct; my fears have been realized. As now contemplated, an organization -- JFNA -- so inept that its accomplishments over its 11 years of existence can be counted on the fingers of one hand while spending $600 million of our communal, our donors', dollars would be entrusted with determining how and for what purposes our dollars are spent in Israel, around the world and, now, as I understand it, nationally and continentally. It is evident that the leaders of JFNA, out of either ignorance or their apparent need to control all things, are willing to put the federation enterprise at risk to accomplish goals only they have set. Let me explain... The idea of a Global Planning Table was formulated in the fertile mind of the current Board Chair in consultation with her predecessor, pushed at a February 2009 Florida Board Retreat attended by less than 1/3 of the federation population at best and never voted upon there. From that false premise that there was some form of imaginary "consensus," the Board Chair, as is her style, determined that she had carte blanche to impose a JFNA-controlled allocations system on the federations, the JDC and JAFI. And, don't kid yourselves, it is this leadership's construct that JFNA (and only JFNA) is to control all overseas and national allocations to our once-cherished partners and national agencies. Ignore the reality that JFNA has no competency...none...to execute these responsibilities if JAFI, JDC and the national agencies acquiesce; this is all about control...it is only about control without regard for the deconstruction of our communal fiber this power grab will wreak. Chevre, Our federation system is about trust -- trust of the donor in the federation, trust of the federations in our partners and our national organization, and the mutual trust of the system's historic partners -- JDC/JAFI -- in the federations/JFNA as the reverse. That trust of JAFI/Joint in the national organization has broken down almost completely -- and with reason. Today, JFNA's hand-picked consultant, Board Chair and CEO are making the argument that the GPT must be implemented as they dictate because federations will no longer make large unrestricted allocations to the JDC/JAFI. Yet, JFNA for the last 6 years engaged in not a bit of advocacy for the Partners' core allocations. The organization leadership's argument for the GPT is comparable on all fours with the tale of the child who kills his parents and then pleads for mercy because he is now an orphan. The current situation, if JFNA's premise is correct, is the direct result of JFNA's abandonment of its historic responsibility, mandated in the Merger Agreement which created it and embodied in the JFNA/JAFI/JDC Agreement reached less than 6 months ago, which JFNA is clearly willing to breach in exchange for the control it now demands. Yes, in November 2010, after lengthy negotiations between the Board Chair/JFNA, JAFI and JDC, in which Manning was the sole lay participant for JFNA, thanks to Cleveland's Steve Hoffman's "shuttle diplomacy," an agreement was reached premised on 4 co-equal legs: the GPT, JFNA's commitment to a Second JFNA Membership criterion based upon federations' allocations to JAFI/Joint core, the implementation of aJDC/JAFI/JFNA advocacy program, and a common commitment to FRD, branding and marketing. The good faith that characterized those negotiations and were embodied in the agreement was immediately breached by JFNA's unilateral (and obsessive) pursuit of the GPT to the exclusion of the other mandated areas of activity and the willful exclusion of JAFI and JDC through this date, and the pursuit of the GPT with a clear bent toward the deconstruction of the core allocations -- the absolute opposite of the promise and intent of the Agreement. (In fact, it has become clear that the application of such core allocations as may remain upon the GPT going operational will be determined by the GPT, not by UIA, JAFI or the Joint.) The pursuit of the GPC is such an obsession that the 2012 JFNA Budget to be approved in May 2011 will include an additional $1.2 million for the Global Planning Table to include another four professionals dedicated to the "process." That's $1,200,000 for a "plan" that has yet to be approved. (It can be argued that the diversion of $1.2 million contributed to the peremptory firing of eight JFNA employees -- to date.) That's your money, folks. But, to this JFNA leadership, never mind -- it's their money to spend as they may dictate -- that's life in the monarchy. The Budget and Finance Committee, a more than willing servant. But, what the GPT threatens and and promises has awakened federations and donors around the country to the potential for destruction of all that we have built. There is momentum today for change -- to examine how much we have collectively lost since the merger that created JFNA (for JAFI/JDC well over $100,000,0000 in core allocations) while at 25 Broadway thumbs twiddle and leaders make a mockery of agreements (including the Merger Agreement) and the concept of good faith, common commitment and partnership. As one federation leader observed at a GPT Regional self-styled "Feedback Meeting," none of our communal values are reflected in the GPT as presented -- when the question was raised, the answer was something like "...let me get back to you on that." Friends, a self-styled "Big Idea' Can also be a bad one. The JFNA of today, rather than inspiring us to the best that we can be, demands the least of us. That is both a tragedy and a too heavy price to pay for $30.3 million per year. If you believe that this is another "no big deal," think again. There are of course choices: you can sit in a darkened room and cover your eyes and ears like the hear-no-evil, see-no-evil monkeys. (JFNA calls this the preferred way and those that do so are called "they're JFNA.") Or burn a major amount of incense to mask the stench coming in the days ahead. Or you could speak up for our system's, your federation's, your own values and principles -- but, first and foremost, you'll have to explain them. Speak up. Rwexler