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September 23, 2009

Sokatch on federations’ Israel limitations

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/sokatch_on_federations_israel_limitations_20090923/

Freshly dispatched from the San Francisco Jewish federation to his new post atop the New Israel Fund, Daniel Sokatch gave a short Q&A with The Jewish Week about the challenges of operating within the federation system. Particularly interesting is what Sokatch had to say about the vision for supporting Israel, even in liberal San Francisco:

What were the frustrations?

In any big organization there are people who are resistant to change, just as those who welcome change and are excited by it.

Where I found the conversation most difficult was around Israel. This federation does amazing work in working for pluralism and inclusivity for all Israelis. But over and over again, we saw a highly mobilized, motivated and determined minority that found any change in the status quo in the conversation about Israel very threatening. That’s not something indigenous to the federation; it’s a factor in the whole Jewish community.

How did that resistance manifest itself?

There were relentless efforts to quiet the diversity of opinion when it comes to Israel by going after professionals who were deemed insufficiently pro-Israel.  ... I think this points to the limits of the Federation, at least for now, as something that can be a tent for all pro-Israel voices.

(Hat tip: The Fundermentalist)

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