Monday, July 16, 2012


The Jewish National Fund recently announced its pro-Israel Hasbara Campaign -- stepping into the void created by JFNA's apparent lack of interest in the subject. Yes, JFNA has lost its way, creating voids everywhere into which other organizations immediately (or slowly) step. The JNF campaign -- Positively Israel -- is just one of the things JFNA should/could be doing if it weren't so intent on examining its own navel, promoting itself, its "brand," and narishkeit over the interests of the federations.

Take for example the mantra for continuing the GA, which is but a shadow of what it once that has been constantly heard: "If the federations don't do it, some other organization will." I have become a believer...reluctantly... in the relegation of the GA to every other year, but making it a powerful, relevant meeting.  How can we as a system promote an annual event that had fewer full pay  Registrants -- 835 -- than at any point in its history? Remember the "new GA"? An outgrowth of an intensive study and plan flowing from...the Board Chair, vu den? Remember moving it to important and attractive tourist locations like Denver and Baltimore and away from Houston and Orlando? And, now we have drawn the fewest paid attendees two years running. But on it goes, year after year, as we trumpet its success in the social media because if we say it's a success, it is, right?

And, our new commitment to "new and better" Missions? JFNA attempts to create  and lead simultaneous high-end high cost Missions to Berlin (Ben Gurion Society) and Rome (with an audience with the Pope!!!! added in for the Prime Minister's level contributors). The former has been canceled for lack of interest; the latter hanging on totally dependent on the contingent Chicago can produce. Some leaders have told me that national missions now frequently proceed with the imprimatur of JFNA with no fund raising requirement.

We lack the strength, the power, the prestige of the organizations that preceded JFNA -- CJF and UJA. Even with the millions invested, we lack their brands' strength. Third party organizations so little respect JFNA (they may respect the federations, but less and less so) that they are on the cusp of a massive invasion with their strengthened professional financial resource development managers and huge fund raising budgets. And what does JFNA do: well, it fantasizes an "agreement" with JAFI and JDC that will ostensibly manage their entries into federation territory while shielding their collective eye from what is already happening. And while that fictional "management" is going on every organization from ORT to the ENP and beyond is poised for or actively engaged in invasion. The federations have expressly told JFNA to "stop this" from happening -- and JFNA, well it's busy worrying about "impure thoughts," Festivus and the irrelevant. Hasbara, heck, we've got the IAN. Irrelevant, us, no way, we get invited to the White House and to Democratic Committee hearings and look at all of our staffers who were at the President's Conference in Israel last month, and how we always visit with the Prime Minister.

We're important, just ask us.



Anonymous said...

What a shock! Russell Robinson, CEO of JNF, is one of the great visionaries of our time. Believe me Russell's day is not consumed with debating whether or not people from the outside should come in and save the Jewish communal world,or figuring out how round pegs fit in to square holes. It is more like, "if he/she has an idea that jives with our mission and helps the people of Israel, let's work with them" and in his spare time he is working on dynamic platforms like . . .well . . positivelyisrael

Anonymous said...

Russell...not so much. Has Russell ever defined what JNF should be...or is it to be anything Russell conceives whenever he conceives it? If hasbara is one of its fundamental purposes, where has JNF been on the subject all these years? And will Russell lose interest in te subject after a few months?