Monday, January 26, 2015


I admit to being misinformed when I wrote that the lay and professional leaders of JFNA, Israel and Overseas and the Global Planning Table had met a few weeks ago to establish guidelines for the smooth functioning of JFNA in the overseas arena. I apologize for this misinformation. I know I was misinformed because I, like many of you, received the GPT: Phase Two -- Next Steps one-pager immediately before the JFNA Board meeting and it disclosed that absolutely nothing has changed.

To wit:

  • It is the GPT that will "work in collaboration with our partners and other organizations" on all overseas "initiatives"
  • It is the GPT that will "assess the impact of collective funds"
  • It is the GPT that "will continue to serve as a planning arm for JFNA...facilitating a next round of thinking and strategizing by Federations
Oh, there is lip service to the GPT's work which "...will complement and be synchronized with the work of the Israel and Overseas Coordinating Council and advocate for increased Israel and overseas funding, but, just to underscore its hegemony in this area, the GPT paper makes certain that we know that it is the GPT "Partnership Committee (which) will continue its mandate (??) to develop..." allocation recommendations (which the Partnership Committee [permanent Chair, Kathy Manning, of course] will "advance" to the JFNA Board). 

If you were to read the real, original mandate of the aggrandizing Global Planning Table, you would know that what were originally to be requirements of Phase One of the GPT -- funding its Strategic Initiatives and assessing the impact of global services and funding, among other things -- now have been shifted to a Phase Two that was never contemplated.

And, just to further put JFNA's Israel and Overseas Coordinating Council in its place, the GPT unilaterally announced, in this "paper" that it "...will continue to be a freestanding Committee within JFNA, reporting to JFNA's Board..." and, thereby, not reporting to Israel and Overseas.

And the Israel and Overseas Coordinating Council -- what will it be doing? Best I can tell, its new Chair will be tossed a few bones -- like leading a Solidarity Mission to Paris -- and sent to the corner where he can reflect upon being misled. 

In America we have grown used to reporting our losses as victories (Vietnam, Iraq come to mind), declaring victory and moving on. At JFNA, and especially, within the GPT "process," we just deny our failures, count losses somehow as "victories" (after all this spurious "Paper" reported that "[D]uring its first three years, the GPT successfully facilitated planning and program development processes" -- that's three years and that's success and over there -- that's the Brooklyn Bridge we want to sell you) and just continue to  build loss upon loss, with never ever a report on how much money has been and is being wasted 24/7 on this thing.

David Butler, in a very generous farewell and thank you letter upon his retirement as karaoke singer to Kathy Manning's voice as GPT Chair, announced his successor, a lay leader from MetroWest with a wonderful reputation for independent thought, and a number of changes to Co-Chairs of the various Initiatives. Not surprisingly, with all of the changes, one thing is forever...Ms. Manning will continue to make or influence all matters related to the GPT as Chair of the GPT "Partnership" (what the hell does that mean in the GPT context??) Committee.

But, with all the changes, don't worry, the GPT (not JFNA, not its Israel and Overseas thing), will be "[e]ngaging and educating Federation leadership on an on-going basis, to ensure that Federations of all sizes are fully updated about GPT efforts." Sure, just as these same professionals -- and those are exactly the same folks -- have not done for three years. 

So I will ask Michael Siegal once again: "Why don't you act like a Board Chair and (1) replace the self-perpetuating oligarchy at the top of the GPT pyramid; and (2) merge the GPT into the Israel and Overseas Coordinating Council -- and take these steps now?"

Oh, I forgot, Michael Siegal doesn't do that. 

Yes, as it has been explained to me: JFNA is to the Global Planning Table as Poland was to Germany. 



Anonymous said...

I think the Nazi-Poland analogy is too harsh. I'd go with Hezbollah - Lebanon,

RWEX said...

You are absolutely correct. I meant to edit out the harsh reference -- thanks for the reminder.

Anonymous said...

Watching Michael at this meeting, I am not certain he even understands what the hell is going on -- especially so when he has Silverman whispering in his ear.

If you just keep your eyes on the federation CEOs, you can see the contempt they have for some of the stuff coming out of the mouths of our so-called leaders whether they are on-script or off

Anonymous said...

Circus? A circus at least has moments of comedy and drama; JFNA has only sadness and the humor you might find at a funeral. There was no spirit at these meetings; there was no passion. It's as if everyone has given up.

Anonymous said...

By my count the Global Planning Table has already cost the federations $15,000,000 in fees, costs, staff (here and Israel); and what do the federations have to show for it? Not one damn thing, even though Kathy Manning and others of her claque insist that the GPT has already created great change in Israel. Of course if you ask them to list some of the examples of those supposed changes, you won;t get one example let alone multiples.

This whole thing is another example of what you have written about before: it is The Emperor's New Clothes in real time.

Anonymous said...

$15 million? Perhaps. My envelope says about half that, but still. And that doesn't reflect the third party costs: JAFI/JDC having to mount ever increasing fundraising campaigns, advocacy trips to communities, the communities' costs and staff time to manage the visits...

Maybe $15 million was conservative.

Anonymous said...

I think the last anonymous misquoted Kathy Manning when he said "even though Kathy Manning and others of her claque insist that the GPT has already created great change in Israel" I think she meant to say the GPT has created great dollars in JFNA (not Israel).

Anonymous said...

I am new to this whole thing. Does JFNA have a Chair, what does he/she do? Does it have a CEO, what does he/she do? Is there a Budget Committee what does it do? What are this organization's accomplishments?

Anonymous said...

Here's the $64,000 question -
If indeed all of you and those other silent readers and anonymous voices are actual Federation leaders and actually attend JFNA meetings (huh?), why are your Federations paying for all this?!?!