Executive officers of the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI) rejected an attempt by a member of the organization to move a motion at AACI's annual general meeting on Tuesday calling for the release of Jonathan Pollard, a naval intelligence analyst who has been incarcerated for the past twenty years for passing classified information to Israel.
Pollard's sentence appears to be much harsher than those of American citizens who have committed treason by conveying classified information to countries not friendly with the US. All efforts to discover the reason for this discrimination or to have him released have failed.
This is not the first time that pro-Pollard activists have tried to raise the issue at AACI, but the organization which is apolitical, consistently refuses to get involved, even though some of its members think that it should.
The tenor of the meeting indicated that even though some of those present have been in Israel for upwards of thirty years and may speak fluent, idiomatic, almost accent-less Hebrew, the mentality is not Israeli. Everyone, including the person who tried to move the motion, was just too polite to take the matter further, even though there were several people who after the meeting concluded said that they thought that the Pollard motion should have been accepted and resolved.
Like all immigrant organizations, AACI has suffered from acute lack of funding, especially since the Jewish Agency has cut back on its AACI allocations, due to its own declining income.
Whereas in the past, donors made funds available to the Jewish Agency for global needs, today they are designating their contributions and are often by-passing the Jewish Agency to supply funds directly to the causes they espouse.
As a result AACI has to find new ways to raise funds. One of the measures employed was to put AACI's stately building on Jerusalem's upscale Pinsker Street, on the market.
AACI President Evelyn Grossberg reported that "serious negotiations" for the sale of the premises are in process, and if consummated, will generate sufficient profit for the organization to pay off its debts and create a substantial endowment fund the interest of which will finance AACI operations.
One of the immediate aims said Grossberg, is to revitalize AACI groups throughout the country and expand AACI activities.
Towards this end said AACI Executive Director David London, AACI must overhaul, modernize and do everything possible to escape its recurrent financial problems.
The AGM was to have been addressed by Jewish Agency Chairman Zeev Bielski who was scheduled to speak about the contribution of North American aliya.
But Bielski who had double booked, preferred to go the sexier Herzliya Conference taking place simultaneously to the AACI's AGM, and gave last minute notification to the organization that he was not coming.
What annoyed AACI was that Bielski could have told them a week ago that he couldn't make it, and they would have found another speaker. As it happened, Bielski sent along Jewish Agency Education Department chairman Amos Hermon, who came unprepared and mouthed a few inane platitudes in a level of English that left much to be desired.
But the evening was not a complete wash-out. Stand-up comic David Kalimnick, whose 'Aliya Insider' act in which almost all immigrants to Israel can find echoes of their own experiences, prompted smiles, giggles and belly laughs. Kalimnick has the gift of giving a humorous twist to a dire situation, or simply finding something funny in a serious problem.
Talking long distance to his mother on the phone, the 27-year old Kalimnick says: "No Mom, I'm not married yet. They want someone who speaks their language. I don't speak Russian."