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AJC UNIVERSITY BREAKFASTS




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Thursday, May 3, 2012



Friday, May 4, 2012


Understanding the Arab-Israeli Conflict
Part I: 1948-1967

The 2012 Max Fisher Memorial Lecture

Steven Bayme, National Director, AJC’s Contemporary Jewish Life Department

This session will survey the Arab-Israeli conflict from 1948 to 1967 and the Six-day War. It is designed to provide background information and understanding of the historical underpinnings to today’s challenges. This is part one of a two-part AJC University session that continues on Friday morning.


God’s Promise: Understanding the Jewish Connection to the Land of Israel and its interreligious implications

Rabbi David Rosen, International Director, AJC’s Interreligious Affairs Department

In his infamous speech before the UN General Assembly in September 2011, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas referred to the Holy Land of Palestine as “the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad and the birthplace of Jesus Christ.” At no point in his address could he bring himself to mention the Jewish historical and spiritual claim to the land of Israel. The attempt to deny the Jewish connection to the Holy Land is a key component of the insidious strategy of delegitimization. Any global Jewish advocate today must be able to articulate this history and explain why the State of Israel couldn’t exist anywhere else.


Latino Attitudes Toward Jews and Israel: What Do the Numbers Say?

Dina Siegel Vann, Director, AJC’s Latino and Latin American Institute Researchers from Latino Decisions

In 2011, AJC undertook a rigorous attitudinal national survey among U.S. Latinos to understand fully different positions relating to Israel and Jewish issues and to be able to craft effective inter-group strategies. AJC hired Latino Decisions, a nationally renowned research firm. During this session, researchers from Latino Decisions will present the findings of this pioneering study. AJC experts will discuss the implications for AJC’s future engagement with U.S. Hispanics as well as for American Jewry and Israel.


Israel and the Diaspora: A Conversation with MK Yohanan Plesner

MK Yohanan Plesner, Member of Knesset, Member of the Knesset's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee

This session focuses on the complicated but vital relationship between the Israeli government, specifically the parliament or Knesset, and the Diaspora. While the Knesset represents actual Israeli citizens, the Diaspora encompasses all potential Israel citizens. How should Jews outside the Jewish State react to policies created by the Jewish State? Engage in this important and meaningful conversation with actual Knesset member Yohanan Plesner.


Answering the tough questions about Israel

Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, Head of International Media & Communications Branch, IDF Spokespersons Unit

Israel is an apartheid state. The Israeli security fence is a modern day Berlin wall. How can you defend such a brutal, undemocratic state? These are the accusations and tough questions about Israel that many Jewish advocates have to face. Learn how to respond from someone who does this for a living—Israel Defense Force spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich.


Engaging the Arab World the AJC Way

Rabbi Ephraim Gabbai, Arabic Website Manager, AJC’s Department on Middle East and International Terrorism

From Tunisia to Egypt, and Libya to Syria, the Arab world has risen in protest. What began as an Arab Spring, with young and booming populations demanding their voice be heard, now more closely resembles an Arab Winter dominated by Islamist radicals. What does this upheaval and instability mean for the region, for the U.S., for Israel and for the Jewish people? Learn first-hand from an AJC expert, fluent Arabic speaker and editor of AJC’s innovative Arabic language website.


The European Challenge: A Frontline Assessment

Dr. Alan Mendoza, Director, Henry Jackson Society; Richard Prasquier, President, Crif; Marek Siwiec, Member of the European Parliament; Daniel Schwammenthal, Director, AJC’s Transatlantic Institute (moderator)

This session will examine what advocacy looks like on the European landscape today. What are the challenges and obstacles? With a particular focus on France, Germany and the U.K., these three expert advocates will share their personal experiences, insight and advice.



Understanding the Arab-Israeli Conflict
Part II: 1967-2012

The 2012 Max Fisher Memorial Lecture

Steven Bayme, National Director, AJC’s Contemporary Jewish Life Department

This session will survey the Arab-Israeli conflict from 1967 to the present. It is designed to provide background information and understanding of the historical underpinnings to today’s challenges. This is part two of a two-part AJC University session beginning Thursday morning.


Religious-secular tensions, pluralism and interfaith relations in Israel

Rabbi David Rosen, International Director, AJC’s Interreligious Affairs Department

One of the most contentious issues between Israel and the Diaspora, and indeed within Israeli society, has been the role of religion. As Israel’s ultraorthodox population skyrockets in both numbers and political prowess, religious and secular tensions have only grown more severe. This session will explore the role of Judaism in the Jewish State and the religious/secular divide over the meaning of being a Jew in Israel.


^ Iran’s penetration in Latin America

Stephen Johnson, Director of the Americas Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS); Dina Siegel Vann, Director, AJC’s Latino and Latin American Institute

As the Washington Post reported this January, “Iran is quietly seeking to expand its ties with Latin America in what U.S. officials and regional experts say is an effort to circumvent economic sanctions and gain access to much-needed markets and raw materials. The new diplomatic offensive, which comes amid rising tensions with Washington and European powers, includes a four-nation swing through South and Central America this month by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.” In reality however, Iran’s penetration in Latin America began long before Ahmadinejad’s January visit, evidenced by the 1994 Iranian-sponsored attack against a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. What does Iran’s presence in Latin America look like today and how should we deal with it? Come to this AJC University session and learn the answers.


Israel and the Diaspora: A Conversation with MK Yohanan Plesner

MK Yohanan Plesner, Member of Knesset, Member of the Knesset's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee

This session focuses on the complicated but vital relationship between the Israeli government, specifically the parliament or Knesset, and the Diaspora. While the Knesset represents actual Israeli citizens, the Diaspora encompasses all potential Israel citizens. How should Jews outside the Jewish State react to policies created by the Jewish State? Engage in this important and meaningful conversation with actual Knesset member Yohanan Plesner.


^Engaging the Arab World the AJC Way

Jason Isaacson, Director, AJC’s Office of Government and International Affairs

From Tunisia to Egypt, and Libya to Syria, the Arab world has risen in protest. What began as an Arab Spring, with young and booming populations demanding that their voice be heard, now more closely resembles an Arab Winter dominated by Islamist radicals. What does this upheaval and instability mean for the region, for the U.S., for Israel and for the Jewish people? For decades, AJC has traveled extensively in the region and cultivated relationships with Arab states that are virtually unheard of for a Jewish organization. Learn first-hand from an AJC expert and veteran Jewish diplomat.


^Answering the tough questions about Israel

Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, Head of International Media & Communications Branch, IDF Spokespersons Unit

Israel is an apartheid state. The Israeli security fence is a modern day Berlin wall. How can you defend such a brutal, undemocratic state? These are the accusations and tough questions about Israel that many Jewish advocates have to face. Learn how to respond from someone who does this for a living—Israel Defense Force spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich.


The European Challenge: A Frontline Assessment

Deidre Berger, Director, AJC Berlin; Dr. Alan Mendoza, Director, Henry Jackson Society; Richard Prasquier, President, Crif; Daniel Schwammenthal, Director, AJC’s Transatlantic Institute (moderator)

This session will examine what advocacy looks like on the European landscape today. What are the challenges and obstacles? With a particular focus on France, Germany and the U.K., these three expert advocates will share their personal experiences, insight and advice.