Friday, June 2, 2017


Yes, we decried on these pages JFNA's failure to issue public Statements on matters directly related to Jewish values and communal values while JFNA's leaders were busy issuing their own statements on the need for civility in public discourse and warning of the potential pitfalls of any communal organization issuing any public statements on anything. Then, without warning, the JFNA Board Chair was issuing statements in his titular capacity on the potential of the Trump presidency and that of the then nominee, now the U.S. Ambassador to Israel. 

And, then, as we reported, William Daroff, as head of JFNA-Washington gave a comprehensive deconstruction of the devastation that would potentially be wrought were Congress to pass the so-called American Health Care Act and presented it to a Congressional Committee. While I and, perhaps, you would have endorsed the Daroff presentation, and the JFNA leaders' public statements (including one over the Board Chair's title published in The Hill) we strongly suggested that the authorization for such statements be enabled by a JFNA Board, or at least Executive Committee, Resolution -- and there was.

Many of you will recall that in the CJF era and into the first decade of JFNA, GA Plenaries annually considered a series of Public Policy resolutions that were designed to set forth the communities annual positions on a series of domestic and overseas issues. These public policies were typically hammered out over weeks with often intense federation participation (often led by my own community's JCRC chief pro, the brilliant Michael Kotzin, z'l) and rigorous floor debate (sometimes [ok, many times] characterized by the often soporific picking of nits over a comma here, a semi-colon there). Public statements could then be issued arising out of the positions adopted. 

And, in this instance, a set of 2017 Public Policy Priorities were processed right up through the JFNA Board in January 2017. These are a continuing set of Policies that will  drive the organization's public positions and have driven those public positions since their adoption. This is exactly the path JFNA should follow in all things.

We were reminded of all of this when a FOB forwarded to me a letter, once again over Daroff's signature as JFNA Senior Vice-President for Public Policy and Director of the Washington Office, decrying what was now the U.S. House of Representative's passage on to the Senate of its bill "killing" ObamaCare. William's letter was an abbreviated version his earlier far more lengthy presentation to Congress on the potential  devastating impact of the legislation. It was an excellent letter; but, once again, one issued by a senior professional on behalf of the organization without any known governance process (and, no, "approval," if any, by the Domestic Policy and Public Affairs Committee just doesn't cut it; not at all...not a whit.

The JTA picked up on all of this in an article titled Jewish Groups decry House Approval of Republican health care bill (emphasis added). One of the "groups" -- JFNA. And, in the body of the article as well, quotes for our Group from...William Daroff, "Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Director of the Washington Office -- including the following in summation: "For these reasons, we must oppose the legislation as currently written..." Intuitively correct? Yes. Authorized by any action of JFNA's governance bodies? Presumably and probably; and, as we noted above, the statement is excellent and on substance consistent with communal values.

If only this could be so in every aspect of JFNA's work.


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