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 BillLet's applaud JFNA for saying something, anything.
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."
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 Debate. http://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
* 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