AJC Weekly Update - December 20, 2006

American Jewish Committee News Update

Update 236  |  December 20, 2006

Now Available: 2006 American Jewish Year Book

A historical retrospective by David Harris about AJC’s first 100 years – and a look into the future – is the feature article in the 2006 American Jewish Year Book. Also in the volume is a new demographic study that puts the U.S. Jewish population at 6.4 million. The study already has gained widespread media attention in the U.S. and Israel. Now in its 106th year, the American Jewish Year Book remains the definitive source for information and analysis about the American Jewish community, Jewish demography and Jewish life worldwide. ORDER YEAR BOOK.

AJC’s Diplomatic Quiz – Winning Big on World Affairs

The winners of AJC’s first Diplomatic Quiz – recipients of a free copy of the American Jewish Year Book 2006 - are: Adam Janvey of Washington, DC; Eli Shirayanagai of San Mateo, CA; Michael Wall of White Bear Lake, MN; Patty Freidman of Washington, DC; and Harvey Tepner of New York City. VIEW QUIZ AND ANSWERS.

London Jewish Community Greets AJC President

In an effort to strengthen AJC’s ties to British Jewry, AJC President E. Robert Goodkind led a leadership delegation to London to meet with the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the main community organizing body for British Jews, as well as with the Community Service Trust and the newly formed Jewish Leadership Council. The group also met with British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, longtime Jewish community leaders Lord Greville Janner and Sir Trevor Chinn, and with leadership from the Reform, Liberal and Conservative Masorti movements. In addition, the group held meetings with those Members of Parliament who initiated a serious parliamentary investigation of anti-Semitism, and with younger leaders of Conservative and Labor Friends of Israel. AJC Board members Stanley Bergman and Peter Rosenblatt joined Goodkind on the mission.

Brazilian Jewry Hosts AJC Delegation

An AJC senior leadership delegation visited Rio de Janeiro for a series of meetings with the Brazilian Jewish community. The two-day visit is part of AJC’s expanding ties with Jewish communities across Latin America, organized by AJC’s Latino and Latin American Institute. In addition to meeting with the Rio de Janeiro Jewish Federation leadership, the AJC delegation visited with the head of the Brazil-Israel friendship group in the Brazilian Senate, the Israeli ambassador to Brazil and Brazil’s ambassador to Israel.

ACCESS Holiday Mission to New Orleans

AJC’s ACCESS: New Generation Program will return to New Orleans next week with an ethnically mixed group of 40 young professionals to participate in reconstruction efforts and dialogue with students and faculty of Dillard and Xavier universities, and with the Jewish community. ACCESS visited New Orleans last February for a weekend of clean-up projects. AJC’s Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund distributed more than $1.2 million to Jewish and Christian houses of worship. Next week’s trip is co-sponsored by Birthright Israel’s alumni association and the Office of Black Ministry of the Archdiocese of New York. For more information about ACCESS, visit www.ajc.org.

Energy Independence Meetings in Washington

AJC leaders met in Washington with high-ranking Administration and congressional officials to press for bipartisan action aimed at drastically reducing our nation's dependence on foreign energy sources. The group, led by AJC President E. Robert Goodkind, AJC national energy committee chairman Henry Dubinsky, and Richard Foltin, AJC's legislative director and counsel, met with James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality; Andrew Karsner, Energy Department Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency; Dennis Fitzgibbons, Democratic staff director and chief counsel of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce; and Robert Simon, Democratic staff director of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

AJC Outraged over Libyan Death Sentences

A Libyan court’s sentencing of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor to death was denounced by AJC. The verdict was based on allegations that they deliberately infected Libyan children with the AIDS virus. “International experts have found these charges baseless,” said AJC. “It is perfectly clear that the Libyan government is using this case for political purposes, and that the Libyan legal proceedings, which led to the death sentences, were grossly biased." READ RELEASE.

AJC Condemns UN Vote on Security Fence Register

AJC condemned the resolution adopted by the Tenth Emergency Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Israel, calling for the establishment of a register within the UN system to monitor Palestinian claims regarding Israel's security fence. AJC commended Australia, Micronesia, Marshal Islands, Nauru, Palau and the United States for voting against the resolution. READ RELEASE.

Letter to Incoming UN Secretary General

AJC applauded incoming UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon for his condemnation of Iran’s Holocaust denial conference and its continued threats against Israel. “True leadership is always based on moral principles. We want to thank you for the moral leadership you demonstrated and wish you every success as you assume your new position,” AJC wrote in a letter to Ki-Moon. READ LETTER.

Farewell Dinner for Kofi Annan

AJC President E. Robert Goodkind hosted at AJC headquarters a private farewell dinner for outgoing UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and his wife. Annan discussed cooperation with AJC on a number of issues related to anti-Semitism and Israel and answered questions from guests, who included AJC Board members, UN officials and Congresswoman Nita Lowey.

Australian Jewish Students Visit AJC

Seventeen leaders of the Australian Union of Jewish Students came to AJC to meet with Rebecca Neuwirth, director of AJC’s ACCESS: New Generation program, to discuss areas of mutual concern and opportunities for cooperation, including increasing participation among young people in Jewish communal life and combating anti-Semitism on university campuses.

College Students Engaging Israel

AJC convened the New York Israel Roundtable, a regional grouping of Jewish organizations working on Israel initiatives that serve American college students. The program, in association with the Israel on Campus Coalition, featured Steven Bayme, AJC’s director of Contemporary Jewish Life, who discussed the debate surrounding the outrageous allegations of “Jewish influence over Mideast policy” promoted by Professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer.

AJC Radio Message: Remembering Our Troops at Holiday Time

For American troops abroad, this time of year is especially difficult, says David Harris in his national radio message. “At this holiday season, keep those troops in mind,” says Harris. “Let’s remember that because of them, and those who served before them, we’re blessed to live in this democratic land.” LISTEN. Harris delivers weekly messages on the CBS radio network, which is aired in the greater New York area during the Osgood File on WCBS NewsRadio 880AM at 6:40 a.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays. All AJC radio commentaries since 2001 are available at www.ajc.org.

Lighting Chanukah Candles with Israeli Prime Minister

Rabbi David Rosen, AJC’s international director of interreligous affairs, was given the honor of lighting Chanukah candles at the Israeli Prime Minister’s residence with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

California Leaders Meet with Rep. Tom Lantos

Leaders from AJC’s San Francisco Chapter participated in a breakfast meeting with the incoming chair of the U.S. House International Relations Committee, Rep. Tom Lantos. Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor in the Congress, reviewed issues critical to the committee, including special emphasis on the Middle East, Iran and Israel.

AJC Mideast Briefing: The Price of Engaging Syria

In his weekly analysis of political developments in Israel and the Middle East, Eran Lerman discusses the political and security concerns Israel faces should it seek to engage Syria. READ BRIEFING.

In the Media

The Jerusalem Post published an op-ed by Rabbi Edward Rettig, associate director of AJC’s Israel office, critical of Israeli Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar’s push to deny the legitimacy of conversions performed outside of Israel. READ OP-ED.

The Boston Globe published a letter-to-the-editor by Kenneth Levine, president of AJC’s Boston Chapter, about Jimmy Carter’s book. Also on the Carter book, the Houston Chronicle published a letter by David Barish, president of AJC’s Houston Chapter, the New York Times cited David Harris’s Jerusalem Post op-ed article, and the Sun-Sentinel quoted Daniella Levin, director of AJC’s Palm Beach County Chapter.

The Jerusalem Post and JTA published articles on the American Jewish population study featured in the just-published 2006 American Jewish Year Book .

The Chicago Tribune quoted Emily Soloff, director of AJC’s Chicago Chapter, in an article on the display of religious symbols in Chicago’s Daley Plaza.

The National Catholic Magazine published an article on Chanukah by Rabbi James Rudin, AJC’s senior interrelgious affairs adviser.

JTA quoted Richard Foltin, AJC’s legislative director, on how proposed travel limits on Members of Congress will affect Jewish organizations sponsoring trips to Israel.

The New Jersey Jewish News extensively profiled Yehudit Barsky, AJC’s director of counterterrorism, in an article about her visit to the AJC Society at Princeton University.

JTA quoted David Harris in an article on Bangladeshi journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, who has been charged with sedition for his contact with Israel and outspoken opposition to radical Islam.

UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer appeared on FOX News and was quoted by the Chicago Tribune regarding the new UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Neuer and the work of UN Watch were also the focus of a story in the Boca Raton News.

The Charleston Gazette quoted Rabbi Anson Laytner in an article about the controversy surrounding Christmas tree displays at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The Baltimore Jewish Times quoted Richard Foltin, AJC’s legislative director, on the U.S.-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The next issue of AJC News Update will appear on January 3, 2007. Best wishes for a happy new year!

Please contact Kenneth Bandler, AJC's Director of Communications,
at bandlerk@ajc.org with any questions or comments.
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