There can be little doubt that the UIA Chair is fully familiar with the terms of the "Global Operations Committee Report;" yet, true to JFNA "tradition," it's "confidential" until JFNA determines in its sole discretion that it's not."To: UIA Board of DirectorsFrom: Andy Groveman, ChairDavid Mallach, Executive Vice chairRE: UIA Board of DirectorsDATE: October 12, 2018Customarily at this time of year, you would be receiving a letter from UIA regarding your future status as a member of the UIA Board of Directors. As discussed at a number of our meetings over the past 7 months, JFNA established a committee to examine the entire area of its global operations, including the relationship between JFNA, UIA and the Jewish Agency. In the deliberations of the Global Operations Review Committee, many issues have been examined which could have implications for the structure and governance of United Israel Appeal, Inc. The UIA Board will have ample opportunity to review and comment on the report before it is presented to the leadership of JFNA.In the context of these potential developments, the UIA Nominations Committee met. It recommended that the current Board and Officers of UIA remain in place until the January 2019 meeting of the JFNA Board of Trustees, at which time it is likely that the final recommendations of the committee that are ultimately agreed upon will be presented to the JFNA board for formal action. At that point or during the few weeks prior, we will have an opportunity to decide on how best to respond to whatever decisions are taken.At the meeting of the UIA Executive Committee on October 10, 2018, it was unanimously voted to accept the recommendations of the Nominating Committee and leave the current Board members and Officers in place at this time and we hope that you will agree and continue to serve as a member of the UIA Board of Directors until there is a resolution on the governance structure going forward. As stipulated in the UIA Bylaws, if no board members are chosen by the JFNA board and no new officers are selected by the UIA Board, then the current ones remain in place until such time as they are replaced.We believe that this approach is in the best interests of the UIA, JFNA and the Jewish Agency at this time and hope that you will agree to continue to serve as a member of the UIA Board of Directors..."
One has to ask: given its abysmal results, whom in their wisdom would willingly permit more power to accrete to JFNA after the secrecy, the waste over the past decade? Well, we'll soon know. Recall that UIA secured and has well-managed the US Refugee Grant that has meant tens of millions to JAFI; that its Israel staff has performed with excellence (both absolutely and in contrast to rest of the bloated, failed JFNA-Israel operation); and, probably unknown to the current group of JFNA leaders, half of the UIA Budget is reimbursed to JFNA-UIA by JAFI. So if this is about UIA's cost, this Global Operations Study thing ought to be spending all of its time studying the stultifying waste of JFNA-Israel.
Both JFNA and UIA have done a terrible job over the past five years at least in explaining the value added provided by UIA -- value-added that far exceeds UIA's "cost" to the federation system. Put this in the same category as JFNA's failed advocacy on behalf of JDC/WorldORT/JAFI -- a failure of responsibility.
Since the merger almost two decades ago, a succession of United Israel Appeal Chairs -- Jane Sherman, yours truly, Bruce Arbit, Rich Bernstein -- had been forced to step forward to defend UIA's role as principal to the JAFI agent and to defend its fiduciary responsibilities under a series of IRS Revenue Rulings against periodic attempts at JFNA usurpation. None of us wished to be in a position adverse to JFNA's. (Before my first meeting as UIA Chair, I was interrogated by JFNA's Chairs seeking assurance that I would "cooperate" in ways that they perceived Jane Sherman had not. I assured Joe Kanfer and Kathy Manning that they would have my support so long as they did not usurp UIA's functions. It took them all of two weeks to violate that assurance. Matters got worse from there.)
If does not take a seer to read between the lines of UIA Chair Andy Groveman's Memo to the UIA Board -- the end result of this "process" will not serve the interests of JAFI, UIA, JFNA, the federations or our donors.
A far more perceptive reader, commenting Anonymously to our Post, Questions Abound, spelled it out perfectly:
"So the task force that was set up to study JFNA operations in Israel and related activity has its recommendations ready, although they are not yet being released for now so as not to spoil the GA (as if it would matter).In the negotiations of the merger that ultimately subjected UIA to subsidiary status, Shoshana Cardin, z'l, UIA Chair and Danny Allen, then UIA Executive Vice-Chair (for the first time), fought with incredible passion to preserve UIA's critical role as interface between donors, federations and the Jewish Agency. In my role, I helped to force the merger upon UIA -- for which I have constantly apologized and attempted to atone. I am proud of the resistance that my predecessors and successors as UIA Chair* demonstrated in asserting that UIA's role would not be diminished any more than it already had been.
One wonders what this document is going to suggest, although there is probably very little room for optimism.
Since active lay involvement is something that is not appreciated by the powers that be, we can expect yet another attempt to destroy UIA and to make it just another department operationally and to crush its ability to really include any meaningful proactive lay leadership and advocacy functions. Having gotten rid of UJA after the merger, there will almost certainly be an attempt to finish the job by 'merging' UIA into the 'professionally' led wasteland where lay leadership have no real role.
As for the operations of the JFNA 'Global' empire in Israel, they probably won't touch the untouchable and will allow the empire-building trend of the past decade to continue unscathed, wasting our resources and accomplishing nothing at all that could be considered as being a positive contribution to the federations, to Israel or even to JFNA itself. That is unless one takes into account the wonderful feeling and illusion that we are overseeing the Knesset and the Israeli Government, while creating new and innovative programs and alliances to further philanthropic causes in Israel (Gee, that really sounds impressive!). The only important function of an Israel and Overseas department or unit should be advocacy in North America and the providing Israel and Overseas programming resources to federations, not trying to run its own lobbying and programming activities in Israel.
So, after the GA circus we will be seeing the task force report and recommendations (if they decide to really share them). Maybe we will be pleasantly surprised but more likely not. The big question is whether we will stand up and fight or just sit back and watch the continued irreversible destruction of any meaningful collective continental communal organization.
Then again, maybe it will just be a wonderful report and we can all just say 'aye' to it. Or maybe it will be a disaster and we will all say 'aye' anyway so as not to make waves and rock the boat.
Time will tell."
The question now (and for the past two (is that all) years is whether the current United Israel Appeal leadership has the strength and tenacity to assure that UIA's roles -- those that they have fulfilled so well -- are protected.
All signs point to "no."
* My own private, then public, "resistance" so offended JFNA's leaders that I was forced out as Chair.