Apparently, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is sensitive to criticism. Over the past week, it received enormous – and well-deserved – flak after it announced the decision of its nominating committee to select former HIAS chairman Dianne Lob to serve as the Conference’s next chairman. In what is largely viewed as a formality, the full Conference membership is expected to “elect” Lob formally on Tuesday. She will be running unopposed in an open election that will be held on a Zoom conference call. Conference CEO William Daroff and his associates are so certain of her victory that they are already referring to her as “Chairman-Elect.”
Lob’s selection has drawn protests because HIAS, the organization she led from 2016-2019 is a post-Jewish organization. Its leaders openly support and defend anti-Semites like BDS leader and Hamas supporter Linda Sarsour. Sarsour, for her part, held a fundraiser for HIAS in October 2018.
HIAS collaborates with Islamic groups that allegedly have links to Hamas and terrorist activities. It also works with other post-Jewish, pro-BDS groups like IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace.
In short, HIAS works against, not on behalf of the interests of the American Jewish community. As its immediate past chairman, Lob oversaw many of HIAS’s anti-Jewish operations and as such, she seems a poor candidate to lead an organization that serves as the umbrella group for 53 American Jewish organizations and is widely seen as the most important Jewish organization in America.
As JNS news service reported last week, following the announcement of Lob’s selection, 17 members of organizations that are associated with the Conference of Presidents signed a letter to the Conference’s leadership setting out numerous violations of the Conference’s bylaws that took place during the nominating committee’s deliberations. Among other things, members of the Conference were given less notice than mandated by the Conference’s bylaws to consider Lob’s nomination.
They have not been able to privately vet her.
Daroff, who played a central role in the nominating process, allegedly acted in breach of the Conference’s bylaws. AIPAC President Betsy Korn was a member of the nominating committee despite the fact that she didn’t meet the Conference’s criteria for committee membership.
A senior conference official divulged to Israel Hayom that another member of the nominating committee had an acute conflict of interest with one of the candidates that was not selected. The committee member in question had been fired by the candidate. She did not disclose her conflict of interest to the other members of the committee. Instead, according to another source, the committee member harshly criticized the candidate who fired her during the nomination process and played an instrumental role in his disqualification.
Obviously, the member’s conflict of interest should have disqualified her from committee membership from the outset, and once it was discovered, should have compelled the other committee members to disregard her claims against the candidate. Instead, they selected the HIAS chief.
As the source close to the events explained, “Basically every Conference bylaw was trounced to get Lob selected. Every procedure was breached. If they had run a fair process, Lob, who won by one vote, would not have been chosen.”
Due to the widespread and stinging criticism directed against the Conference for choosing the leader of an organization that defends anti-Semites and collaborates with Hamas affiliates as its new leader, on Sunday, outgoing Conference Chairman Arthur Stark and Lob released a joint statement to Conference members with the surprising announcement that the Conference had changed its bylaws. Under the new bylaws, Lob will serve as “Chairman Elect” under Stark for the coming year. In April 2021, she will be inaugurated to serve as Chairman.
On the face of things, the surprising move seems like a concession to the many Jewish groups and activists who vociferously oppose Lob’s selection. But upon reflection, it is no such thing. Stark, Daroff, Lob and their associates have not budged from their determination to install Lob as the next chairman. They will not acknowledge the bylaw breaches endemic to the nomination process that selected her.
Instead, they have decided to neutralize the criticism by laying low for a year. They assume that within a few months, people will grow used to the idea that a woman, who led an organization that abandoned its Jewish identity officially in 2014 and works openly with political activists that seek to deny American Jews their civil right to express their support for Israel and their opposition to anti-Semites and terrorist organizations, will now be the head of the most important American Jewish organization in the United States.
Lob will undoubtedly go on a “listening tour,” and make everyone feel that they are listened to. And then, beginning in April 2021, she will allow her allies on the post-Jewish Left to control the Conference just as they control HIAS.
Last week, to calm concerned Jewish leaders and donors, Conference officials argued that even if Lob wants to transform the Conference into a HIAS knockoff, she won’t be able to. The Conference’s bylaws, they explained, require the leaders of the executive committee to act within the consensus of the Conference’s members. This position is exposed as a lie by the speed with which Stark and Lob oversaw a radical change of the Conference’s bylaws to create a new position of “Chairman-Elect.” Obviously, the bylaws can be changed at the drop of a hat.
There is a way to resolve this situation. Conference members can transform the formality of the vote on Tuesday into an actual election and vote against Lob. In so doing, they would send the entire appointment process back to the nominations committee for another – more legitimate – round of deliberations and votes. If this happens, there is a chance the Conference of Presidents will save itself from a hostile takeover by radical activists who oppose the views of 95% of American Jews and seek to transform the Conference into an anti-Israel, post-Jewish pressure group. Barring such action, however, the chance of saving the Conference from the post-Jewish Left will effectively disappear.