Wednesday, November 9, 2011


As has been reported elsewhere as well as on these pages, in November 2010 JFNA, the Jewish Agency and the Joint entered into a tri-partite agreement that offered the promise of JAFI/JDC engagement with the federations at a Global Planning Table at which they would be full participants, even with no vote, a meaningful Second Membership criterion that would commit all all federations to a meaningful core allocation to the Jewish Agency and Joint, and the establishment of a Committee of the parties " consider, discuss and establish" if all agreed "guidelines for" the partners FRD, co-branding and marketing. (The "Agreement.")

Surely, I and others have written "volumes" on the GPT, so filled with jargon, complexity and cliche, that promises nothing less or more than the end of our historic system. While the Joint will see short-term benefits from the termination of its historic "split" agreements with the Jewish Agency, sh ort - and long-term, both organizations' core allocations, so vital to their work, will be the bank from which JFNA will draw down funds at its whim to fund programs more momentarily attractive and "impactful," as JFNA shall determine. This will inevitably and inexorably force the Jewish Agency and Joint into direct fund-raising, competing with the annual campaigns of all federations but JAFI's and the Joint's most significant funders. Our system will end with JFNA performing the last rites.

As to the Second Membership Criterion -- it is a meaningless exercise. Originally called for, under the JFNA/JA/Joint Agreement of less than one year ago, to increase core allocations to both organizations. It is now nothing more than an "enabler" -- enabling federations that allocate nothing to the core of either historic partner to participate side-by-side with those who allocate significant funds to the core budgets of both historic partners. A ridiculous by-product of JFNA standing for absolutely nothing.

But, none of the breaches of the Agreement has dissuaded JFNA from attempting to impose a draconian set of "fund-raising guidelines" on JAFI and JDC that, if accepted, would have made their fund-raising impossible -- just these two "beloved, historic partners," not Birthright, not the ENP, not multiple Israeli beneficiaries. At a meeting convened by JFNA with lay leaders from the historic partners present along with, as I recall, at least two Large City CEOs, JFNA professionals tried to unilaterally impose these "Guidelines." They failed. So, as is their wont (remember, the GPT arose out of a phony "consensus" at a 2009 Federation Retreat), having failed at the meeting, JFNA tried to impose its will by drafting Minutes totally inconsistent with the meeting's lack of outcomes. Both Joint and Agency representatives who attended the meeting, rejected these so-called "Minutes." Since that time there has been at least one inconclusive teleconference. As to the obligation accepted by JFNA, after its self-imposed silence, to engage in advocacy for and with JAFI/JDC, the silence is deafening.

And, now, the Agreement that offered the possibility of Guidelines having been breached by JFNA as to each and every specific, and the GPT now passed assuring that at the and of 2012, core allocations to the historic partners will no longer be a priority of our system, there is no Agreement on which any of the parties might rely. Thus, the law of unintended consequences will assure that the Jewish Agency and Joint have no choice but to compete not only with each other for federation Israel and overseas funds, but to compete with the national organization their votes enabled. Those federations who supported this and JFNA which initiated this will be the ones who will sadly pay the price.

This is the saddest of a succession of sad days.


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