Not Stepping Back

Letter to the Editor

Published December 21, 2012, issue of December 28, 2012.
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The December 21 front-page story on the American Jewish Committee inexplicably repeated an egregious error that the Forward published one year ago. When first reporting that contributions to the AJC totaled only $10 million in 2009, AJC immediately brought that fallacy to the attention of Forward editors in emails and phone conversations. The correct figure for 2009 was more than $36 million.

Regrettably, the Forward has erred once again, republishing the 2009 figure in its new story about the AJC, which focused on our strategic plan. Further compounding the error this time is the accompanying chart depicting a severe drop.

The AJC’s financial health has been, and continues to be, solid. The real numbers for annual contributions are readily available. Indeed, the Chronicle of Philanthropy last year, and not for the first time, included the AJC in its list of the top 400 not-for-profit organizations from among more than a million groups.

We also feel that the article misrepresented the vision of the AJC’s Strategic Plan and its implementation. Strategic planning was an intensive two-year process involving more than 150 highly engaged lay leaders and staff in the kind of partnership that always has been a hallmark of the AJC’s modus operandi.

The result was a decision to focus on our core strengths, principally global advocacy and intergroup (interfaith and interethnic) diplomacy. The assertion that the AJC has “set aside” the realm of church-state separation is incorrect. The AJC is fully engaged. That’s why Marc Stern, the Jewish community’s pre-eminent expert in the field, joined the AJC staff two years ago. The AJC’s legal and legislative staff, in partnership with lay leadership, deals regularly with these matters, including filing amicus briefs.

Lastly, the AJC’s tradition of groundbreaking research continues. In 2012 alone, the AJC commissioned four separate surveys of American Jewish voters, and also a path-breaking national study of Latino attitudes toward Jews. While our library was scaled back to fit the current needs of the agency, it is functioning and is not, as reported, closed.

Kenneth Bandler
Director of Media Relations
American Jewish Committee
New York


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