Sometimes one has to just scratch one's head (or bang it against wall or tabletop) in wonder, amazement and shame. Our Post on New York UJA's choice of Japan as a Mission venue -- HUH? -- where participants can experience "the impact of (New York) UJA's global work" inspired a number of incisive Comments that, if you haven't, are must reading.
One of you, under what I assumed was a nom de plume, shared a Shmuely Botech op-ed questioning why Keren Ha'Yesod was honoring Vladimir Putin. An excellent question. Boteach apparently did not realize that this Mission was, in fact, the historic ILR -- the International Leadership Reunion -- a "joint effort" of KH and the Jewish Federations of North America to bring together the mega-donors to our communal efforts world-wide. See, www.ilr2019.com The ILR was originated decades ago under the sponsorship of the United Jewish Appeal and KH and held every few years.
Honoring Putin, the Russian "President"/dictator who supports Iran and Syria among other outlaw nations and undeniably doirected interference in not just the 2016 election here and in countless other countries as well, is understandable only if the Jewish leadership of Russia let it be known that "this will help us." Better yet, the ILR needed to be in Israel where these most major donors might have had a positive and direct impact on Israel-Diaspora relations. But...no.
Honoring Putin at a major Jewish event reminded me of an almost catastrophic mistake shortly after the merger that created what is now JFNA. (I cannot remember the exact event, but it might have been planned for an ILR as well.) The first JFNA Chair of the Executive, with no other lay input, Joel Tauber decided it would put JFNA "on the map" if it presented -- wait for it...Yasser Arafat -- with some kind of international award. So it came to pass that Arafat would receive the Isaiah Award -- an award either created for this event or one given before to Ben Gurion and Rabin. There was no process, no consultation. The JFNA Executive Chair was ready to head to Europe with speech and award in hand. But, before the hand-off could occur, someone leaked the planned event to, as I recall, the Boston Free Beacon -- contemporaneous discussions suggested that the leak was from the PLO or a JFNA professional. The resulting hew and cry was too much -- the event was canceled.
This thing had two impacts: (1) JFNA developed criteria for honorees and a process for selecting them (I know because I was tasked with drafting both) and (2) Kroll & Associates was hired by JFNA to identify the whistle blower, assuming that it was someone inside JFNA.
19 years later and nothing has changed...nothing at all.