To David Brown's credit, he attempted to institute an advocacy effort for increasing the core budgets of the overseas partners through the still-born Envoys program. At least he tried...tried hard, in fact. And David Butler moves into a role for which he has had some training -- mainly as the articulate frontman for Kathy Manning's embarrassing and wasteful and, now, dead, Global Planning Table. Hopefully, Butler will have greater success without Manning's demands (or even presence) in leading JFNA-Israel forward than he had with the GPT.
Suffice it to say that David Butler has been dealt a bad hand -- first, as the GPT Chair, and now with an over-staffed under-performing JFNA-Israel office in Jerusalem. He confronts federation core budget allocations to JAFI/JDC/WorldORT estimated to reach the lowest levels yet, surpassing the nadir we thought reached last year; while, perhaps, trying to leverage these sad allocations (down more than $200,000,000 [yes, you read it right] from those in the first years of JFNA) to effect some influence over decisions of the Netanyahu Governmant on the Kotel and Conversion Laws that impact directly on a super-majority of North American Jews.
Now, David will be assisted by a small core group of excellent federation leaders appointed by Richard Sandler. My suggestion: starting with Butler himself, each of these leaders should ask themselves: what is my own Federation's allocation to overseas needs and how will I work to influence a dramatic increase -- and if they can't (or won't) do so, each will resign from this JFNA-Israel effort.
In addition, perhaps Butler will take a serious look at the work of JFNA's Israel Office -- if "work" is really the right word for that feckless operation. (It isn't.) I would urge David, as I urged his predecessor, to read the Israel and Overseas Task Force Report authored by Bob Aronson, then the terrific professional leader of the Detroit Federation. (If JFNA can't provide David with a copy, I may still have one. Give me a call.) Its recommendations if followed would have enhanced the role of JFNA, and included, as its most salient direction that JFNA locate its Israel operation in the New York HQ with a senior, Federation-experienced professional at its helm.
Let's leave this chapter on a very sad note. In his transmission of the sorry Calendar Year allocations results, the Board Chair offered a note:
Of course it will...as it always does.
"JFNA/Federations will pursue all possible avenues to increase the available amount."