Tuesday, December 13, 2016


You may recall that not long ago I wrote of the deafening silence from 25 Broadway where "silence is golden" and where there is silence all of the time even on issues about which there is no controversy -- and that includes sticking its institutional head in the sand when it comes to a formal objection to hate speech and acts of hatred.

When I wrote that Post, The Silent Void, there had already been 867 acts of hate in the United States since the election, and still JFNA stands silent cringing at even the possibility of speaking out against hate. Federations across the country have cried out in protest from communities as disparate as Chicago to Colorado, communities of all sizes; but, from our umbrella organization, silence...and, friends, the silence is both deafening and inexplicable. 

And, it is not alone in the USA that the forces of hate have been unleashed, not at all. For in Israel, Minister of the Interior, Aryeh Deri, condemned Reform Jews for their pursuit of the implementation of a Resolution of the Israeli Cabinet authorizing the creation of a non-orthodox prayer area adjacent to the Kotel. Ultra-Orthodox Knesset Member, Israel Eichler, likened prayer of the non-Orthodox in that space to ":..Shiites going to Mecca or Protestants to the Vatican, to create provocations..." And, Deri? He just said simply "I can pass on this kind of Judaism." And those "leaders" have filed legislation in the Knesset that would reverse the Cabinet decision which remains unimplemented one year after its adoption.

This afternoon, after the publication of this Post, more than 48 hours after Natan Sharansky's strong condemnation of the Shas legislation, JFNA roused itself to issue a strong endorsement  of Sharansky's Statement. Here is how reporters learned of JFNA's statement: "Wanted to get you this statement from The Jewish Federations of North America, wholeheartedly suppoting the strong statement issued by Natan Sharansky regarding the bill being advanced at the Knesset which aims to ban non-Orthodox services at the Kotel." That transmittal came from another of JFNA's consultants -- Bluelight Strategies. Here's the JFNA Statement in its entirety:
"JFNA Supports Natan Sharansky Statement on Kotel Bill
Jewish Federations wholeheartedly endorse the strong statement issued earlier [Monday] by Natan Sharansky regarding the outrageous bill being advanced at the Knesset which aims to ban non-Orthodox services at the Kotel. This bill completely undermines the resolution that was negotiated in good faith and was resoundingly approved by the Government of Israel. Given Prime Minister Netanyahu's personal commitment to strengthening relations with Diaspora Jewry, we are also hopeful that that this damaging bill will be swiftly dismissed by a majority of the coalition and of the Knesset preventing irreparable damage to Israel's relationship with Diaspora Jewry."
Let's applaud JFNA for saying something, anything.

And, JFNA...our JFNA (or so we thought)...remains silent in the face of domestic hate. I doubt that this Post had anything to do with the "support" immediately above. Sure. 

Now, those who really don't care about the federations or JFNA, have been demanding that leadership condemn individuals, from Steve Bannon to the President-Elect.* The Jewish Week highlighted the demands of, among others, the ugly anti-Israel group, Jewish Voice for Peace, in an article titled JFNA Dragged Into Bannon Debatehttp://www.thejewishweek.com/news/new-york/jfna-dragged-bannon-debate And, to these demands, rather than responding with the messages delivered by their federation owners against hate, not against Bannon or Trump...against hate...JFNA told JTA that "Trump needs to be given an opportunity to lead." www.jta.org/2016/11/17/news-opinion/politics/jewish-federations-bannon-trump 

Friends, here was another chance for JFNA to speak out against hate...but it just can't. Yet, 
with no process, somehow 25 Broadway was able to preserve that which is most critical 
to it -- invites to the White House to sit there and do nothing, invitations to the President's 
Chanukah party, ratification, in the mind of our so-called "leaders," that we remain import-
ant, indispensable. If our leaders cannot bring themselves to aggressively reject hate speech
-- not individuals, hate speech and acts of hate -- where is their spine, where is principle?

We know the answer. The ultimate question: How long are we...not me...we...going to put up 
with this?


* Somehow, the Chicago Chapter of the venal organization, Jewish Voice for Peace, was
able to publish in our Crain's Chicago Business an ugly piece attacking Steve Nasatir: 
Why is Chicago's Influential Jewish United Fund still silent on Bannon? This "op-ed," un-
deserving of that title, was not just filled with the misstatements of the uninformed --
JUF, not Jewish Federation, JFNA characterized as the federations' "parent organization,"
misrepresents the intent of HR-6112, among others -- its worst offense to this writer was
its total failure to acknowledge the Chicago Federation's express condemnation of hate 


Anonymous said...


Thoughts on this article from this morning:

Debra Nussbaum Cohen

(Haaretz) -- NEW YORK – Malcolm Hoenlein may be standing in a largely empty, ornate Trump International Hotel ballroom late Tuesday afternoon during the Conference of Presidents’ now-infamous Hanukkah party.
It is well known that eight of the Conference of Presidents’ left-of-center member organizations, including the Union for Reform Judaism and National Council of Jewish Women, pulled out of the event. They cited reasons ranging from the fact that the party is being co-hosted by the embassy of Azerbaijan, a Muslim-led country with a questionable human rights record, to the fact that it is being held in a new hotel property owned by the president-elect, which raises questions about the appearance of trying to curry favor with him.
What has not been known, until now, is that several of the Conference’s centrist member groups – core constituents including the ADL, the American Jewish Committee, Hadassah and Jewish Federations of North America – are also refusing to attend the party.
Sources at the ADL, AJC and Hadassah confirmed that they will not participate, as did someone close to JFNA.
“These groups seem to care more about displaying their partisan anti-Trump animus than about the serious mistake of offending the next president of the United States, which would negatively impact our joint duty to promote strong U.S.-Israel relations,” Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America – which is definitely attending the Conference party – told Haaretz. “I doubt these groups would have complained if we had booked a ‘Clinton’ hotel after a Hilary Clinton victory.”
What’s more, the Conference invited the current and three former Obama White House liaisons to the Jewish community to be honored and attend its party. All declined to participate at any level. To be fair, they will all likely be at the White House Hanukkah reception – Obama's final Jewish party in the White House – which starts at 6:30 P.M. local time.

Anonymous said...

The Conference’s Hoenlein did not respond to several emails sent by Haaretz seeking his comment.
His organization’s party, timed to allow people to go to both its party and the White House reception, is slated to take place at the Trump hotel a few blocks away from 4 P.M. to 6 P.M. The Conference gathering will take place in the Trump hotel’s Lincoln Library, which the hotel’s website describes as having 16 foot coffered ceilings, ornate millwork, gilded mirrors and velvet draperies.
The mainstream Conference member agencies have not put made public statements about their decision.
“Nobody’s going. The reasons are obvious,” said one Washington Jewish insider. “It is highly embarrassing for Malcolm Hoenlein.”
Hoenlein “obviously did not anticipate the backlash” against holding it in a Trump hotel, said another. “He really didn’t know what he was doing.”
Some of the mainstream Conference member executives offered public explanations for why they aren’t going.
Janice Weinman, Hadassah’s CEO, told Haaretz that her organization has an executive committee meeting ending just in time for her to take a 4 P.M. flight to Washington for the White House party.
Someone close to the JFNA said that its leaders “are traveling home” and “have other commitments.”
One of the White House Jewish liaisons struck a different tone, telling Haaretz, “are you kidding? I was getting invitations to the protest and I know half the people who are going to that,” speaking of the If Not Now-organized demonstration planned for outside the hotel.
If Not Now is a grassroots protest group whose main focus has been the Israeli occupation, but since Trump’s election has been busy demonstrating against the Trump administration and the Jewish groups it views as cozying up to the president-elect. Hundreds of people turned out to protest outside the Zionist Organization of America’s recent annual banquet, which expected to host Trump adviser Steve Bannon. His Breitbart News agency has proudly promoted white supremacist groups. Bannon never showed up.
The remaining Conference of Presidents member organizations apparently still planning to attend the Hanukkah party include relatively small groups like the ZOA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (or CAMERA) and Emunah of America as well as some larger ones like the Orthodox Union.

Anonymous said...

“A number of the groups are seemingly not that distressed by the Trump administration’s direction. It seems pretty clear that there is a strong desire to protect access for the full agenda, one piece of which is Israel,” said Gideon Aranoff, CEO of Ameinu, one of the Conference member institutions that earlier pulled out of the Chanukah party.
“From our perspective it’s worse for the Jewish community, worse for Israel, and worse for Jewish-Muslim relations to appear to be currying favor with the Trump administration, so holding this event at his hotel is a terrible mistake,” Aranoff told Haaretz.

Anonymous said...

"Someone close to the JFNA said that its leaders “are traveling home” and “have other commitments.”

Yeah, right. Silverman wants a final photo with Obama. It's all he'll have to show for his years at JFNA!

Anonymous said...

Obviously these leaders are to cowardly to speak their minds on anything. While there may be a distinction between condemning hate speech and "naming the names" of those who are or have been engaged in hate, if you speak out on neither maybe you don't know the difference. So stupid.

Anonymous said...

Since when has the Conference hosted Chanukah parties by the White House? I think that was their first mistake, although not the only one.

Anonymous said...

OMG. So JFNAS issued a Statement in support of someone else's Statement -- what courage, what initiative. So afraid of offending anyone and everyone. So afraid of their own shadow (they shouldn't worry this ghost of what an effective organization should be doesn't even leave a shadow).

Anonymous said...

What's with these JFNA leaders? They waste an entire Board meeting word smithing a letter to the Prime Minister and calling for a vote on that letter (which, by the way, had at least two no votes from major federations) and then they belatedly support Sharansky's Statement on the Deri legislation without sending even a courtesy copy to their Board members before some PR firm assured that the press received it.

This has grown so out of control will urge my Federation Board to withhold its 7 figure Dues until the place is cleaned out.