The New Jersey Jewish Standard’s July 1 editorial “In Praise of Non-Partisanship” does Jewish federation donors a major disservice by characterizing the former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, who recently presented to a group of philanthropists, as a partisan speaker.
The Jewish Federations of North America invited the former ambassador to speak at a recent event for an elite group of our donors because of his significant background in the international arena and his unique lens into world politics. As the nation’s U.N. ambassador dealing with global and Mideast issues, Bolton’s insight was invaluable to our guests, and his presentation was centered solely on his diplomatic perspective.
In addition, the editorial fails to mention the other speakers at the event, who covered a broad spectrum of topics in the Jewish world. The afternoon included presentations from Jewish federation executives Steven Nasatir of Chicago and John Ruskay of New York, as well as Rabbi Irwin Kula, president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. They touched upon issues ranging from Jewish engagement for young adults to education on Israel and delegitimization in communities and on campuses. To suggest that our donors convened exclusively for a political discussion undermines the scope of their passions in the local and international Jewish communities.
Finally, it is critical to note that Jewish federation events often feature a wide range of thought leaders, hailing from nearly every political, social, and cultural background. As a non-partisan organization, JFNA is committed to sharing an extensive range of perspectives with the federation movement; in the last year alone, our donors have heard from Vice President Joe Biden, Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as well as Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the opposition Tzipi Livni, and President Shimon Peres, just to name a few.
By presenting a variety of voices to our constituents, we have enhanced our ability to reach a new generation of donors and widened our tent to include Jews from all walks of life.