Today is December 15, 2019 -


At a recent conference for Jewish Federation executive directors, I attended a workshop on writing statements.  Oy vey!  By the end of the workshop, I realized that the course was less about how to write a statement and more about the pitfalls to avoid when writing one.

Take a position.  Get leadership buy-in on the position.  Wordsmith a statement that clearly states the position, but makes supporters happy, while not upsetting  those in the other camp.  And, of course, try to avoid partisan politics.

I repeat, “Oy vey!”

Since the elections, we have had many opportunities to issue statements:  the elections, the results of the elections, Trump cabinet picks, the uptick in bigotry, Trump’s ambassador to Israel pick, the UN Security Council vote, Kerry’s remarks, and Bibi’s response to the vote and Kerry’s remarks, to name a few.  And while an argument could be made that any of these issues poses an existential threat to Israel or the Jewish people, none of these issues really falls under Federation’s mission of building a strong Jewish community and repairing the world.

Some of the larger Federations have statement-writing departments.  We do not.    I, instead, bring to you statements from others on the U.S. abstention from the UN Security Council vote:

AIPAC’s statement

JStreet’s statement

Note that the link to the statement is not working.  Use the link to the website and scroll to the “Recent Statements” section.

JCPA (pre-vote)

URJ (pre-vote)

USCJ & RA joint statement

Orthodox Union statement

Jewish Federations of North America statement

Let me try to summarize the most divisive issues:

  1. The settlements themselves.
  2. The implication that the resolution places the Kotel and other holy sights into land considered “illegally occupied.”
  3. Whether the U.S. abstention conveys the message that the U.S. no longer has Israel’s “back” or rather that the U.S. is merely exercising its “obligation” to do what it considers best to further the peace effort.

It seems like a long time ago when I heard Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks say, “When the world is divided let us be united.”  I hate ending 2016 on such a sour note, but I’m afraid recent events do not leave me optimistic. 

Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York

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