Friday, July 25, 2014


You were first elected President of the entity in 1993 and have served ever since -- 21 years (and, most likely, more to come)  You take personal credit for rescuing it from bankruptcy. Your organization loses, maybe only temporarily, maybe forever, its 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. Though it has a Board, the organization appears to be a one man show. Periodically its CEO erupts in anger at some American policy to which he objects -- or maybe there is some governance mechanism that permits or even authorizes his outbursts --  periodically, this CEO is sued by fired employees.  And his annual pay represents 10% of the organization's budget (if there is a budget); we don't know what his expenses are. He claims to have raised $4 million for ZOA activities in 2013.

It is the Zionist Organization of America; its CEO, apparently for life, is Morton Klein. He was challenged for the Presidency -- there was a candidate but there does not appear to be a Nominating or Search Committee. Or if there is a one or the other, no one at the ZOA knows who is on it or when it met. Klein won the election hands down just a few weeks ago. Perhaps the organization is the model for what JFNA has become. For more on the tragicomedy that is the ZOA, see: :  

Friends of mine are strong Mort Klein supporters -- perhaps because Klein appears to be the one person in organized Jewish life willing to speak truth to power. He is fearless even if he is, I guess as am I, mainly playing one note. One dear friend, a great philanthropist and leader has urged Mort Klein's reelection with these words: "Mort will lead ZOA into an even stronger future." Where else is there to go?

This is an organization that has both a President and a Chair. The President's powers and position suggest that the Chair may be superfluous:
 "National President:  The National President (1) is responsible for the general supervision and direction of the other officers, agents and employees of the ZOA, including the hiring and termination of employees; (2) shall keep the Board fully informed and consult with the Board concerning the activities of the ZOA; (3) shall preside over the Convention, including any and all meetings held in connection with the Convention; (4) issue the call for any Convention, Convention meeting, or special meeting of the delegates or membership; and (4) ensure that regular elections  are called, noticed and held."

Read more:
Adults should know better, don't you think? 

I appreciated the subtle commentary in the Jewish Journal story linked above; I think you will as well. But for real humor, go to the ZOA website and read the range of Mort Klein's comments -- see if you can find anyone else's.



Anonymous said...

I just happened to see the 4th comment from the prior post. Interestingly the comment number shows three comments but this is the 4th one and I assume most people might have missed it. I hope you or some one else will provide a reply. Here's the question that some anonymous person wrote.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Why is JAFI even in the crisis response business? Why would we think the current needs in Israel are needs that our historic partners should meet? Maybe it's time we think about needs/people first and not focus on JAFI/JDC/ORT?

Anonymous said...

This comment #4 took me aback as well. It speaks to how much our history and JAFI's role as state builder and our partner in state building some of us forgot or never knew. It might also speak to the tunnel focus of some at JAFI who are repositioning the agency in ways, some good, but many which marginalize its role. Our overseas partners have and should be in the collaborative business of getting what's done for Israel and our people when it should be done. That by the way is also true for Federations and the annual campaign.

RWEX said...

On point, a friend wrote, in pertinent part:

"...I went to ZOA's web site and it spoke to me. And, I know 100s of disenchanted people with a history of AIPAC leadership who would feel the same way. I made an $1800 donation thinking I'd make a token pledge, get on the radar and get involved.

Here's the good part I sent a few emails to people in "development". When I received no response, I called what must have been 5 times and left phone messages (I don't think they had voicemail), not one called back. When I called the office to ask who to talk to to get more involved, the people who answered the phone had no idea ( I could hear them asking the few people in the office because they never pressed the hold button).

ZOA survives somehow, but I will not be making a second contribution. Besides, I'm sure they have no one to solicit me anyway. "