AJC Weekly Update - January 9, 2008

American Jewish Committee News Update

Update 286  |  January 9, 2008   


President's Visit to Israel

In a letter to President Bush, AJC expressed its best wishes for success on his visit to Israel. "We have every faith that your first visit to Israel as President will contribute to the peace process you launched at Annapolis six weeks ago," wrote AJC. READ LETTER. AJC also sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the occasion of the President's visit. READ LETTER. David Harris, in his weekly national radio commentary, discusses the President's visit. LISTEN. Harris's message can now be heard on CBS radio, Bloomberg Radio, and WQXR-FM in New York.

Mideast Briefing: Bush Visit Offers Signs of Broader Hope

President Bush's visit to Israel, despite the backdrop of threats from Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon, is a reminder that "Israel is not a destructible target or a transient historical phenomenon. It is here to stay," writes Eran Lerman, director of AJC's Israel/Middle East office. READ THE BRIEFING.

Celebrating Soviet Jewry Movement

AJC will celebrate tonight the 40th anniversary of the Soviet Jewry movement and 20th anniversary of the historic Freedom Sunday Rally for Soviet Jews at a special reception. Two hundred guests, including former refuseniks, leaders of the Russian American community, and other community leaders, will be attending. Ed Koch, former Mayor of New York City; Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ); and Yuri Federov, who spent 15 years in the Soviet Gulag, will be honored for their commitment to the Soviet Jewry cause. The event at AJC's New York headquarters is sponsored by AJC's Russian Division, headed by Sam Kliger.

AJC University Societies Visit Germany

Student leaders from AJC's University Societies visited Berlin on a weeklong mission. They discussed with foreign ministry officials German-Israeli and transatlantic relations; met with members of Germany's diverse Jewish community; and dialogued with non-Jewish students at Humboldt University. The visit was sponsored by Germany Up Close, a German government program to foster German-Jewish relations. AJC University Societies are at Princeton, Colgate, Cornell, Harvard, and New York University.

New at ajcwire: New Orleans

"New Orleans has become the metaphor for the problems of our nation laid bare. And while we've seen our share of good and bad answers, the bottom line has been inhumane," writes Rebecca Neuwirth after her recent trip to New Orleans with AJC's ACCESS program for young leaders, the third ACCESS visit there since Katrina. READ BLOG.

Project Interchange: U.S. Muslim Leaders, UN Ambassadors

AJC Project Interchange hosted two important educational seminars in Israel. One brought UN representatives from the Pacific Islands. They were accompanied by Rep. Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa) and Aaron Jacob, AJC's associate director of international affairs. The other is a group of moderate American Muslim leaders from the U.S., who came on a trip jointly sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and AJC's Project Interchange. Accompanying the group was Yehudit Barsky, AJC's counterterrorism expert, who arranged the trip.

Presidential Candidates Respond to AJC Questionnaire

Democratic and Republican candidates for U.S. President have received AJC's Election Questionnaire, covering an array of topics, including prospects for peace in the Middle East, America's addiction to foreign oil, the war on terror, the ongoing crisis in Darfur, immigration policy, church-state safeguards, and religious practice in the workplace. The responses, so far, are now on AJC's website, reproduced without editing. In some cases, candidates, as a matter of policy, chose not to complete the questionnaire. Others are expected to respond soon. VIEW QUESTIONNAIRE.

Blaustein Institute Director Lauded

Felice Gaer, director of AJC's Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, was named a "Newsmaker of 2007" by the New Jersey Jewish Standard. Gaer, who is a member of both the UN Committee Against Torture and the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, is a frequent lecturer and author of more than 25 articles about human rights and related issues.

AJC Energy Efforts

Learn more about AJC's three decades of energy advocacy, including its recent induction into the Environmental Protection Agency's elite Green Power Leadership Club. Listen to David Harris's latest radio address on our energy habits. Read Over a Barrel, on America's dependence on oil from hostile sources. Read AJC's statement welcoming the Energy Independence and Security Act as law.

AJC on YouTube

More than 190,000 have viewed AJC's historic video, Livefrom Aachen, Germany - The Jewish Service Heard Around the World. Visit the AJC channel, ajcnyc, on YouTube to see our important film on Belzec, the Nazi death camp in Poland where 500,000 Jews were murdered, and our Israel 60 film, A Dream Restored, among other AJC videos.

In Other News

-- AJC, in a letter to Congressman Tom Lantos, expressed sadness over his illness and his plan to retire from Congress. "Your congressional career has been, and continues to be, an evocation of the proudest American ideals, and in the noblest tradition of public service," wrote AJC. READ LETTER.

-- Houston Mayor Bill White appointed David Barish, Houston Chapter president, and Randy Czarlinsky, Houston Chapter director, to a two year-term on the City's International Affairs and Development Council/Middle East and North Africa.

In the Media

The Jerusalem Post's French edition published an op-ed by Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, about the UN's treatment of the 60th anniversary of the General Assembly vote to create the Jewish state.

The Los Angeles Times quoted Eran Lerman on President Bush's historic visit to Israel.

The New York Times quoted Steven Bayme, director of AJC's Department of Contemporary Jewish Life, on the death of Rabbi Shmuel Berenbaum, head of the Mir Yeshiva.

The New York Times reported on the overwhelming response for AJC internships in an article in the paper's Education Life supplement on the competitive nature of summer internships.

The J. (Jewish News Weekly of Northern California) quoted Ernest Weiner, director of AJC's San Francisco Chapter, about Tom Lantos' retirement.

JTA and Waste News cited AJC's induction into the EPA's Green Power leadership Club.

The Jerusalem Post reported on AJC's Project Interchange seminar for U.S. Muslim leaders. The seminar also attracted much other Israeli media coverage.

JTA highlighted AJC's support of an ad campaign sponsored by First Freedom First, which encourages voters to ask presidential candidates their positions on church-state issues.

USA Radio interviewed David Harris on the significance of President Bush's visit to the Middle East.

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