Is Collective Responsibilty a Thing of the Past?

Just in time for the opening of the Jewish Federations annual GA, long-time Chicago lay-leader Richard Wexler has relaunched his critical blog, UJ Thee and Me with posts on the proposed Global Planning Table:

from Fool’s Gold:

The proposed Global Planning Table, now coupled with a meaningless even destructive “Second Membership Criterion,” is Fools’ Gold, a cryogenic chamber in which the hopes of the federations for something/anything from JFNA will be frozen in time until the federations come to their senses. By then, if then, so much will be lost …

from Fraudulent Inducement – JFNA and a Second Membership Criterion:

Now, some have told me that it in today’s environment it is futile to even argue the principle of collective responsibility and our historic partnership any more – that’s for the “dinosaurs” and “that train has left the station.” Certainly these leaders know better than I – but they also know that the GPT Plan and the Second Membership Criterion make a mockery of collective responsibility, a mockery of the concept and construct of partnership and these documents anticipate that the federations and JFNA have become nothing more than a confederation of hypocrites. For these documents speak to “collective responsibility” and support for JAFI and the Joint time and time again, but only in the Orwellian sense because what they mean is what the JFNA leaders have demonstrated for at east the past six years – no support, not for JAFI, not for the JDC and not for the collective.

What JFNA proposes would upon its adoption turn the entire concept of collective responsibility on its head. It offers nothing to either the Jewish Agency or Joint, and, when coupled with the GPT, less than nothing. It appeals to the least of us rather than creating an aspiration to join the best of us. It opens up “participation” in JFNA and at the GPT essentially to any federation that allocates anything to anything in Israel or overseas. Your federation designates 10% of its annual campaign to, let’s say, Haifa University – you’re in; to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs – you’re in; to the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress – come on aboard. And, I am told “… this is the best they could do.”

Separately, the email newsletter I Love My Federation (written by an anonymous federation professional) is calling for rejection of the Global Planning Table (reprinted in full as not linkable):

The Global Planning Table Disaster

At the Delegate Assembly in Denver next Week, North American Jewish Federations will be asked to approve a Global Planning Table Fiasco.

Tell your Federation to Vote NO

The Global Planning Table as envisioned, is the beginning of the end of Jewish Communal Collective Action.

It will weaken our National Movement.

It will lead to the end of your Federation.

When Federations are 100% Designated giving by donors, there will be no collective. The Federations will become nothing more than Beauty Contests for the Beautiful and the Strong. The weak who need our help will have no voice.

The Global Planning Table will destroy JDC and JAFI.

Our overseas partners have been able to carry out the miracles our community has enjoyed since the end of the Holocaust and the Rebirth of the State of Israel (and even before). The Global Planning Table calls them partners – but removes them from any meaningful role.

JFNA is nice. It replaced in part UJA. UJA was owned by the JDC and JAFI (UIA). CJF was the trade association of Federations. The Merger made promises to all of us.

Why did JDC and JAFI (UIA) agree to give up THEIR UJA?

Because the Merger promised more money for Overseas needs. Yes Overseas and Domestic needs must be balanced, but the Overseas agenda has already been cut in half and half again.

JAFI founded the very State of Israel, it is the Global Partnership between the Jewish people and the People and Government of Israel. The JDC has helped to sustain and rebuild destroyed Jewish Communities worldwide. Jews would have starved to death without JDC.

JAFI was founded in 1929.
JDC in 1914
JFNA in 1999

What chutzpah! JFNA suggests that they know world Jewry’s needs better than those who are on the ground!

Not With My Money

This is more than about the money – it is about whether you believe in collective action or despotic action. Do you believe that we should make collective action in full partnership with our partners or do you want to abdicate all power to a few in new York to make all the decisions for you.

Our Federations are strong because of the Collective. Centralized New York City allocations will weaken our individual Federations. Major Donors will vote with their checkbooks. We will wither and die.

Vote No. Tell your Federation to Vote NO!

The system is not broken. Our federations are not broken. JFNA is broken. They spend $30 million in overhead, right from our donors pockets on overhead. They need a reason to exist and justify the spending. Voila! The Global Planning Table.

Stop them before they destroy our movement