Then this happened...
Sandler, in Israel for the Jewish Agency Board of Governors meetings, agreed to an interview with Haaretz. And, therein, this paragon of "shhhhh" decided to take a position on a purely political issue. As one of you noted: "Hypocrisy alert! Sandler endorses Friedman nomination while claiming JFNA is apolitical" citing:http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-1.773985 Jewish Federation Head Voices Support for Friedman as U.S.Envoy.
Now, as we have written on these pages more than once, Richard Sandler is a smart and caring man; he must have known that when one is an officer of a federation or JFNA, let alone the chief volunteer officer, one cannot, must not offer opinions on political matters while in office, associating those comments with one's office. After all, the Haaretz reporter didn't seek out Richard's comments on David Friedman's nomination because he is a lawyer from Los Angeles. And, equally clear, the questions asked had nothing...nothing...at all to do with JFNA or JFNA's "Mission," if there is such a thing.
So here was Sandler, the chief architect with that other guy, of JFNA's policy of "never comment" on anything of real or imagined controversy, commenting in his official capacity on a matter of controversy. Shameful, ridiculous, sad. Especially so inasmuch as Richard could have responded: "I can't comment on Mr. Friedman, but we should be focused on Israel's civil society (the next day, ultra-Orthodox attempted to intimidate Women of the Wall from praying at the Kotel), and on the desecration of Jewish cemeteries in the United States and the threats to Jewish institutions, and so on." Instead, Sandler chose to respond to a politicized question on a political matter. You'd think that Sandler hasn't even read what he himself has written or what he said in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal just weeks ago.*
And, then Sandler doubled down.
In a letter to his Colleagues just one day after the Haaretz article, Richard "explained:"
"I have received some questions about comments I made as part of a panel discussion yesterday at the Jewish Agency Board of Governors meeting.Apparently no one bothered to explain to Sandler why his statement as the chief volunteer officer of our organization was one he could not make. The entire scenario is just another example of an organization in chaos, of leadership out of control.
During that discussion, I expressed my concern about divisions within our community, and noted that we need to listen to people we disagree with and give them a chance. This is something I believe and have written and spoken about over the past several weeks. Different perspectives within the American Jewish community are not new. I have respected the various perspectives expressed by members of the American Jewish community in the past, and I respect them now. I am hopeful that we can learn to listen to one another and learn from one another. I believe we can disagree without being disagreeable.
The comments reported in the press were in response to a question directed to me about David Friedman and reflected my personal view, based upon my analysis of the situation and my personal contact with Mr. Friedman. They were not meant to offend anyone, but rather encourage discussion."**
Shameful, ridiculous, sad.
* In a contemporaneous set of interviews in The Jerusalem Post, Silverman and Sandler's predecessor and Sandler himself, commented on anti-semitism in America. Yet, Sandler added his own opinion of Donald Trump in one of the more incredible and hysterical quotes: "“I think he is probably more knowledgeable than some people think on a number of topics..." If anything more need be said about the need for leaders to restrain themselves from commenting on politics and/or political leaders, Sandler has just said it.
** And, as Sandler has said in his Statements to the Jewish Journal and his From the Desk of...to the JFNA community: there will be no such "discussions."