Saturday, August 18, 2018


In my earlier Post Compare and Contrast, on the responses of JNF-USA and JFNA to the crippling attacks on Israeli communities adjacent to Gaza, we reviewed the actions of the two organizations. As the attacks continued the week of August 3, we saw...well, let each organization's response:

JNF-UJA's power response was summarized by its CEO, Russell Robinson, in the Times of Israel,, in pertinent part:
"They say that silence is golden. Yet, now is a time that we cannot stay silent. For over four months, communities facing the Gaza border in Southern Israel have lived through a daily barrage of incendiary kites, balloons, and rockets. For these families, one night of silence would be welcome. Instead, they are woken up each night by the sound of sirens blaring as they gather their children and rush to bomb shelters. Children are afraid to take a shower in case a siren goes off. Farmers watch their livelihood burn as hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of crops meant to support their family are gone in an instant. This is what normal life is like for close to 30,000 people living in these communities.
These are people who moved here to farm land before 1948 and others who were seeking refuge from Yemen and other Arab countries and brought in 1949 and 1950 to make a home in Southern Israel during Operation Magic Carpet. Among these communities are also families who moved during the disengagement from Gaza in 2005, who are not filled with anger, but instead they moved on to build new lives. They are filled with the passion to build the State of Israel, for the Jewish people everywhere. Modern day pioneers who see the Negev though the same eyes as David Ben-Gurion—the place that holds the future for Israel. We cannot sit silently by while thousands of men, women, and children have their physical and mental wellbeing put in jeopardy.
 Robinson continued:
"At Jewish National Fund we are standing up and calling attention to what has not made it into the headlines. We are gathering our voices together to share the story of these families. From August 19 through August 30, Jewish National Fund is bringing a farmer, a mother, and a student to share firsthand accounts of what life is like. The true story. This caravan will travel to communities across the United States and together we can make a sound that is louder than the sirens. Join us, invite your friends and family, share these stories on social media, and reach out to your local representatives. Together we can make sure that what is happening is no longer silent.
Jewish National Fund-USA has also launched an emergency campaign to further relief efforts and support the communities affected by this terrorism. In addition to funding trauma resilience centers and the JNF Sderot Indoor Recreation Center, we are also planning to add bomb shelters, paint 20 bomb shelters already in place to make them child-friendly, provide new fire trucks and firefighting wagons, purchase life-saving equipment, and fund special activities for children of the region."
"Standing up," "joining our voices together," "launched an emergency campaign." Just think of those responses and we can understand the pride that JNF-USA's constituency and its lay and professional leadership feel -- we can understand that sense of pride because it's the sense we once had in our continental entity.

Were I to contrast the powerful response of JNF-USA with the lack of any response to JFNA, it would be damn embarrassing to show JFNA's actions as a sorry blank page.


It has been pointed out to me that I have understated the contributions of JFNA for the federations. So, I will add the following Release from JFNA in haec verba:
"The Jewish Federations of North America allocated nearly half a million dollars to help relieve suffering in southern Israel caused by 'kite arson' and provide trauma counseling and support for a growing number of Israelis who have been impacted by increased strife along the Gazan border.
Federations provided funding so that 100 children from border communities could participate in The Jewish Agency for Israel's Summer Respite Camp which offers children a reprieve from their homes daily hardships.  Grants were also made to local organizations for to purchase critical equipment such as radio transmitters and fire carts, bring experienced volunteer American firefighters to Israel, and support trauma counseling for the most vulnerable.
"It's not just the 'kite arson' that is taking a toll," said JFNA President and CEO Jerry Silverman. "Israel's southernmost communities have been hit with hundreds of rockets from Gaza-the most intense exchange of fire since the 2014 conflict, Operation Defensive Edge." 
"Ensuring the residents are safe and that life is able to flourish is of strategic importance to Israel and to Jewish Federations," he added.
Among the most recent grants, JFNA will support a second group of ten firefighters from across the U.S. who will arrive in Israel next week and work shoulder to shoulder with Israeli first responders who are deployed round the clock to try and halt further destruction. "Kite arson," a new tactic employed by Palestinian terrorists, has traumatized Israelis and caused millions of dollars in damage.
"Though we are fortunate that to date no one has been killed or physically injured by the kite terror," said Richard Sandler, Chair of JFNA's Board of Trustees, "the wave of arson has caused devastating damage and emotional trauma. The harsh sights of blackened fields, damage to crops, agriculture, wildlife, people's livelihoods, and their connection with the land is having a devastating effect on all residents, young and old."
"'Throughout Israel there is considerable tension and the security establishment is on high alert,'" said Silverman. "'With our local partners we will continue to identify pressing needs in communities on the southern border. Fortunately, Federation-funded programs, established with emergency dollars in the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge, are in place which supports the resiliency of civilians living in towns near Gaza, providing real-time comfort and assistance during this tense period.'" 
Two observations that speak for themselves: (1) the Release above was titled "JFNA Allocates Funds to help besieged Israelis" but does not recall that the "Funds" were from the unspent "Victims of Terror Fund" created by donors like you at the time of Operation Protective Edge in 2014 (fill in your question here: _______________________); and (2) nothing much to really see here and no new FRD to have a more significant impact.

So, chevre, I will just applaud JNF-USA for stepping up boldly where others stand aside at a time that cries out for boldness.



Anonymous said...

Take a bow!! Or something. That first "Compare and Contrast" popped Jerry Silverman from his rabbit hole once again to embellish JFNA's response to the Gaza enclave crisis. Have you heard anything about JFNA's "work" in the Negev any more? The entire JFNA operation is in the hands of its marketing charged with making very little appear to be something big. Smoke and mirrors all of the time.

Anonymous said...

Once upon a time there was an organization called the United Jewish Appeal. It was then "merged" into what is today called JFNA. Actually, rather than being "merged" into JFNA, it was taken apart and thrown away.

Today, JFNA has no collective campaign - only FRD condultants and advisors.
Sometimes we decide to open a mailbox - usually not. Passively opening a mailbox is not the same as running a campaign but that seems to be all that is left of what once was.

Is there anybody out there that doesn't think that we have failed miserably aa an umbrella organization?
We have become an umbrella that is incapable of opening up to stop a drizzle, never mind a heavy rainfall.

We have become a useless but expenive umbrella. We have lost our way, lost our vision, lost our mission, lost our value to our federations, our partners and our people.