Saturday, September 20, 2014


It's time to revisit the farce that is and has been the Global Planning Table.

This was all so predictable -- from the beginning. And we predicted it on these very pages.The reality that the Global Planning Table was shoved down the throats of a super-majority of federations by the minority of the weak in the sway of Kathy Manning can no longer be denied. Those who played this sad game have the waste associated with this thing on their tab, and we have only ourselves to blame.

An abbreviated history is in order. The bare outline of what was to become the co-option of JFNA by the GPT was discussed in the final moments of a JFNA Retreat four+ years ago. From there, Manning and her acolytes claimed a "mandate" to move forward with what was to become a parallel governance to that for JFNA, controlled by the largest federations, and taking over, among other things: the "split" among JAFI, the Joint and World ORT; advocacy for core allocations; and defining a set of "Signature Initiatives." The fund raising and funding for the GPT and its "Initiatives" were left to the ineptitude of JFNA. There has been almost total failure in every aspect of this...thing.

Over the past four years: the creation of a "governance" structure so complex as to make Rube Goldberg proud; Manning had herself named Chair of the decision-making body of the GPT; unaccounted-for millions out of your Dues have been thrown at staff, consultants, studies, papers, you name it (in addition to overhead dedicated by JAFI/JDC/ORT to responding to never-ending demands by GPT for more, more, more); a significant professional hired by JFNA to run the GPT left after about 6 months for reasons never explained, the professional operation then turned over to the JFNA flacks and to Israel-Overseas in Jerusalem. The stench of failure can be smelled from here.

In its wisdom, the tiny cabal of GPT leaders with the curious acquiescence of JFNA's leaders and the total support of CEO Jerry ("if the Global Planning Table fails, then JFNA will be destroyed") determined that its two Initiatives could and would not proceed without a federation pre-commitment of $15,000,000 ($1,500,000 in the aggregate from each of 10 federations spread over three years) per Initiative. Some digging and my intuition tell me that JFNA is so far from those fund-raising goals for each and both Initiative that they cannot even be seen from here. 

The implications of this failure can be seen everywhere.

  1.  The "Signature Initiative" branded J-Quest (a brand announced with such fanfare by the GPT cheerleader-in-chief, David Butler, one might have thought the brand itself was the goal) was actually cobbled together by a small group of LCE, JAFI and the Joint; its creation wasn't dependent upon the existence of the GPT whatsoever. J-Quest was seized upon as the easy and ready answer to what role JFNA and the federations would play in the Government of Israel/World Jewry Initiative (G-d -- all these "Initiatives") -- itself in chaos. The Federations and other Diaspora organs committed to the Prime Minister that they would raise twice the amount dedicated by the GOI to this effort. Clearly, as detailed above, JFNA/GPT can't even raise $15,000,000 in "seed money" for J-Quest let alone the multiple tens of millions more that the World Jewry Initiative would require. 
  2. As a super-majority of federations have been excluded from the GPT decision-making "processes," they have no vested interest in the outcomes of these "Initiatives" considered so vital to JFNA's very existence. Thus, the engagement of all federations in their Continental organization is further distanced -- and JFNA "leadership" can't even understand this.
  3. JFNA isn't threatened by the failure of the Global Planning Table, as has been the case from the onset of this invidious cancer, JFNA is threatened by the existence of the Global Planning Table.
When Michael Siegal and Dede Feinberg took on their Chairs at JFNA, at many meetings they were heard to ask the absolutely right questions about the continued existence of the Global Planning Table. Though they received no answers, eventually they capitulated to the interests of those so vested in that thing and stopped even asking questions.

And, here we are, left with the detritus of predictable failure. 

Addendum: while this expensive grievous failure continues to repeat itself, and compound with the hiring of a recently retired Federation CEO to "fund raise" for the Signature Initiatives" (while Jerry Silverman does...what exactly, send letters?), on the ground in the Ukraine where a focused JFNA might find itself, but cannot, here's what was reported by the NCESJ on 9/23:
"Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine persists, with concerns growing as winter season approaches. According to Ukrainian state statistics, the number of refugees from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions has now reached 248,000. Also, more Ukrainian Jews are immigrating to Israel. According to the Jewish Agency for Israel, 4,200 Ukrainian Jews have made aliyah this year. Emigration to Israel has increased dramatically compared to 2013: from Odessa, by 371%; from Kharkiv, by 341%; from Dnipropetrovsk, by 263%; and from Simferopol, by 178%."
"Humanitarian crisis"? Not our business..not when there is an Israel Children's Zone to create, no way.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for your observations on the futility of the Global Planning Table effort. I have been at many of the meetings and can tell you first-hand that they have been run like any totalitarian state -- no room for discussion or debate, raise a question that contradicts Manning and/or Butler and you will either be publicly criticized or even scorned. You won;t be surprised but raise a question or criticize and your federation CEO will receive a call from Silverman. At each meeting I think to myself "why did I waste my money to travel and attend for this?"

The leaders and the consultant have taken us down every wrong path possible.

Anonymous said...

Psssst. JFNA just keeps asking us -- the federations for money -- for the Israel Emergency, for the Ukraine Emergency, for "Completing the Journey" (remember that one?), core allocations, Dues -- the list is pretty much beyond exhausting. Then these unthinking, non-planning, stupid people want mopre and ever more for for the Global Planning Table?

We all know that we are just cash machines serving at the whim of dolts, but, come on!! This has to stop.

Anonymous said...

How do we find out how much has been wasted by JFNA on this elaborate farce to date? This is our money that has been wasted but Chairs Siegal and Feinberg (she's still a Co-Chair, isn't she) have to demand it on our behalf. Of course they won't so who will?

Anonymous said...

Re Anons 2 & 3: We get what we deserve in Siegal, Feinberg, and the Executive Committee; and Jerry Silverman is the beneficiary.
Nobody pushes back, nobody asks questions and follow-up questions when they get push-backs from the 3 in paragraph 1 above.
Jerry is a smart guy; he has read the landscape correctly and is just moving along because the only thing that is going to matter as far as he is concerned is his resume when he does finally leave JFNA (certainly on his own accord, given history). And, given his selling skills, and the obvious lack of diligence that any search committee is required to do (as evidenced by his being hired by JFNA)....he's not going to have any problems in his post-JFNA position.
Then again, given his compensation at JFNA, he might just retire and write his memoirs...that will probably be published by the JFNA Marketing & Communications department.

Anonymous said...

The gpt is without a doubt the most ridiculous of all efforts. Not one jew in any community except JDC and JAFI board members who have been co-opted give a s*** about bureaucracy and uber complex funding schemes. we wont allow it in our community and instead prefer to adhere to general guidelines about using our dollars to impact the collective and specific overseas programs that are priorities of our.

Anonymous said...

It's a terrible thin that those who could do something about this mess, choose either to sit back and watch or to hold their tongues as they run for higher office where they, too, will do nothing. This is the sorry, sorry reality of JFNA.

Anonymous said...

As we end this year and begin a new one --- here's an idea ---
everyone writing...complaining...criticizing...SIGN YOUR NAME
I will going forward!

Anonymous said...

Has anyone checked with Kathy Manning -- is David Butler still with the GPT?