WITH a slew of centenary events having been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak, United Israel Appeal (UIA) Australia president Lance Rosenberg said it is a pity donors won’t get the opportunity this year to celebrate what the organisation has achieved.
“The enormous pride of being part of an organisation that is simply the fabric of the country is incredible,” he said.
“It’s tragic that we haven’t been able to give it the kavod and recognise it, and our donors and supporters who have given us tens of millions of dollars over decades and decades, to give them the kavod and the appreciation and see the fruits of their contributions and support.”
Asked what makes Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal (KH-UIA) resonate with Diaspora communities such as Australia, he said, “It’s simply the relevance of our operations.
“We’re dealing with the people, which is Israel’s greatest asset,” he continued.
“It’s our unconditional partnership that we have with them. They are at the front line of all the issues [in Israel] and all we have to do is write a cheque and fly the flag.”
Commenting on the challenges UIA Australia faces in KH’s centenary year, as expected he said the impact of COVID-19 has led to “significant cost cuts, employee cuts and yet our work and our needs have escalated”.
Echoing KH World Board of Trustees chairman Steven Lowy, he said the perception that Israel is strong presents another challenge.
Another, he said, is “pledge fatigue” resulting from a “plethora of Israeli charities, who are very relevant, represent fantastic organisations, [and] do a great job”.
“It’s tough on the donors because they all go to the same people and so on,” he said, adding that the major donors who “make or break your campaign” were faced with competing philanthropic priorities.
For Rosenberg, who has held a number of roles within UIA over the years, being involved is not a choice.
“Whenever I’m retired from one of the roles – I’ve gone from Young UIA to UIA Young Leadership, business and professionals – every time there’s a little gap, I’m not comfortable, I’m not happy. I need to be part of it,” he said, adding he “was relieved” the federal president role came up after he relinquished the NSW presidency.
“We’re dealing with the priorities of the State of Israel in partnership with the Israeli government,” he continued, “It is the pinnacle, it is the top. I can’t not be part of it.
“I like to make difference. It’s a very important part of my make-up … we actually have an ability to make real change and to add real value.
“And it’s always people. I love that part about it.”