Thursday, December 22, 2011


With a few others, I listened to the JFNA presentation on the JFNA yesterday. I say "few" because the "presentation," such as it was, lasted all of 15 minutes, the entire conference call, scheduled for 1-1/2 hours, lasted a precious 35 minutes. Seven federation leaders asked questions, JFNA's answers generally had nothing to do with the questions asked.

Here's what I concluded --
  1. JFNA has asked the federations to conduct surveys of whomever they wish (preferably using some JFNA-prepared survey) and report the results in March-April; JFNA will be surveying a whole bunch of people, affiliated and not affiliated (surely to include those attending Festivus II).  The "results" will "inform" the GPT decision-making process. If this is not a formula for chaos, pray tell what would be. Is this just a pretext to allow the GPT Executive to do whatever it wants?
  2. The federations have a lot more to do in December than attend bogus Conference Calls on a matter that is "JFNA's highest priority" (per Jerry Silverman) but no one else's. Yes, most federations are trying to close campaigns and collect cash -- two things with which JFNA acts as if is totally unfamiliar. JFNA's GPT senior pro thanked those on the phone for "the great turnout" -- she has already fallen into the JFNA formula that combines fiction, hyperboole and overstatement into "Orwellian fact."
  3. JAFI and JDC are nothing more than "observers" (JFNA's description) in a GPT "process" designed to deracinate their core allocations. This is not what either overseas partner was told; this is not what was promised by JFNA in its November 2010 Agreement with the partners.
  4. The federations have guaranteed a loan now reduced to $50 million owed by its subsidiary UIA arising out of the application of Operation Exodus campaign funds to domestic resettlement. That loan requires the lenders' consent to any change in the allocations to JAFI. To my knowledge, the lenders' consent has not been sought to the proposed change in allocations contemplated by the GPT. Has JFNA disclosed to these lenders the impacts on the assumed JAFI core as written into the GPT document? What will JFNA tell these lenders -- "trust us?" For that matter did JFNA ever...ever...disclose to the federations that the outstanding loans could be accelerated by virtue of the GPT itself? That was rhetorical.
  5. Critical to the GPT moving forward is the enactment of a Second Membership Criterion, weak as it might be, in addition to the payment of JFNA Dues -- a meager percentage to Israel and Overseas needs. Yet, JFNA took that Criterion off the table at the GA promising that it would be enacted at the January Owners' Retreat. Anyone heard any more about it? Do JFNA's leaders intend to meet that promise or are they finding unanticipated opposition to the imposition of any allocations floor, even a meaningless one, and now expect the federations to which the commitment was made to back off, once again?
  6. Yesterday one federation leader publicly asked how JFNA will "manage" JAFI and JDC vis-a-vis their community FRD in 2012. The JFNA leaders on the conference call appeared not to understand the question inasmuch as they didn't answer it. JFNA has been trying to impose a veto over any Joint or Jewish Agency fundraising. That would be ridiculous under any circumstance, but, given the JFNA unilateral breach of the November 2010 Agreement with JA and JDC, any such suggestion is outrageous.
There's more, but this is food for thought -- like a bad latke, indigestion inducing. Is anyone asking "what have we gotten ourselves into this time?"

Chag sameach,


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