We write to you on a matter of great concern, at a time when we must act quickly to let our voices be heard.
A few days ago the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (the Conference) announced that Dianne Lob, immediate past chairman of HIAS (formerly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), was nominated to be its new chairman.
Her selection by the nominating board without adequate opportunity for vetting, during a time when the nation has come to a virtual standstill, is both an outrage and mockery of the Conference and its goals. The Conference states its vision of its role as follows: “The proven and effective voice of organized American Jewry for more than half a century, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Fund advances the interests of the American Jewish community, sustains broad-based support for Israel and addresses the critical concerns facing world Jewry.”
On the other hand, HIAS, contrary to its storied history of aiding Jewish refugees, might now best be described as a global refugee organization which has virtually no Israel orientation other than its relatively recent attacks on Israel’s policies vis-à-vis African migrants. HIAS is no longer Jewish in its programmatic thrust. Its website makes clear that it dropped “Hebrew from its name” and went to only an acronym, because it no longer focuses on Jewish affairs, let alone Israeli concerns. Mark Hetfield of HIAS was quoted as saying “…the word ‘Hebrew’ is exclusionary and outdated…” HIAS has drastically redirected its mission to the global resettlement of refugees who are not Jews and exhibits little concern for the rising anti-Semitism here and in Europe. In fact, HIAS has worked with known, viciously anti-Israel and anti-Semitic leaders like Linda Sarsour and organizations supporting her, such as The New Israel Fund, If Not Now, and other pro-BDS activists. Ms. Soursour is infamous for her praise for Louis Farrakhan as well as of terrorists. HIAS not only does not defend the Jewish Community against anti-Semitism, it lays the foundation for its growth by turning a blind eye to the anti-Semitic attitudes of many of the immigrants it champions or their eventual impact on the American Jewish Community.
It is important for the Conference to remain apolitical and work with whatever Administration is in the White House. In the past, the Conference has chosen leaders whose views would work well with a sitting president. Yet HIAS has been the lead plaintiff in lawsuits against the current Administration. See article, US Jewish Foreign Policy Umbrella Nominates White House Foe As New Leader in the Times of Israel. Choosing Ms. Lob is a way of politicizing the Conference and announcing it has no intention or desire to work with the current Administration. Politicization will also herald the beginning of a slide into irrelevancy on the part of the Conference.
Unlike previous nominations that received unanimous support in the nominating committee, we have learned that this was a contentious and divided vote. If allowed to stand, it will create more divisions in the Jewish community and will undermine the Conference’s ability to speak for the Jewish community on Israel and Jewish related issues.
Is there any reason to believe that Ms. Lob’s positions on Israel and the Jewish community will differ in any significant way from the organization she headed as the chairman of HIAS?
Most members of the Conference (51 organizations) have never met Ms. Lob. Since current distancing rules from the COVID 19 pandemic have prevented members from meeting her in a face to face, confidential setting to discuss issues, the vote should not now be rammed through with only ten days notice. Schools, work, courts and sports have been delayed 6 months or more. Is the Conference such an essential function that it can’t delay this nomination by 6 months to allow such meetings and vetting to take place?
There is little time remaining. If you agree, please immediately send messages to:
- William Daroff, Chief Executive Officer of the Conference, William@conferenceofpresidents.org
- Arthur Stark, current Chairman, Arthur@conferenceofpresidents.org.
- Malcolm I. Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference Malcolm@conferenceofpresidents.org
Alternatively, feel free to call the Conference at 212-644-4135 to express your dismay at this unwise rush to judgment.
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Coalition of Pro-Israel Advocates (COPIA)
Citizens Opposed to Propaganda Masquerading as Art (COPMA)
Robert G. Samet, Chairman
Mark H. Lazerson, Vice-Chairman
Carol Greenwald, PhD, Treasurer
Barbara Leber, PhD, Secretary
Robert H. Lande, General Counsel