For more than 25 years, the program formerly known as Promoting Tolerance has engaged nearly 400 emerging leaders in Central and Eastern Europe.
Each year, AJC co-sponsors Promoting Tolerance: Advancing Democracy, Building Civil Society, aimed at promoting human rights, civil rights, and an open society. Starting in 2018, the program will be known as Advancing Democracy: Building Civil Society, Celebrating Diversity. It is run jointly by AJC and the German-based Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF).
Emerging political and civic leaders, identified by FNF from countries in Central and Eastern Europe, discuss the human rights challenges their respective societies face.
During an online seminar, they receive resources on minority integration and human rights policies, and engage in trainings and forum discussions. Afterwards, an international seminar in Europe brings them together for face-to-face discussions about problems they will face in combating intolerance, and provides them the opportunity to exchange best practices. Finally, participants spend seven days visiting several cities in the U.S.
The Advancing Democracy program exposes participants to a broad range of public and private projects and initiatives that American organizations and communities have developed to promote an appreciation for pluralism and diversity. They will view this through the prism of AJC and the American Jewish community more generally.
During their weeklong visit to the U.S., they participate in discussions on political lobbying with advocates from Hispanic, African-American, and gay-rights organizations in Washington, D.C. They also visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and major media outlets, and meet with young professionals to learn about their engagement in advocacy work. They have an opportunity to visit AJC headquarters and meet with our senior professional staff. By traveling to different cities, they are exposed to on-the-ground efforts to combat intolerance and bolster support for an inclusive society, information and insights that they can take back home and apply to their own work.
A signal feature of the program is the informal discussions with AJC leaders who host them in their homes and accompany them to Shabbat services and dinners. In many cases this is the first time participants have ever visited a synagogue or engaged in candid conversation about Jewish issues.
In establishing this cooperative German-Jewish program, AJC and FNF recognized that working together would demonstrate the possibility and value of reconciliation despite the most difficult of pasts. Today, in a Europe where ethnic and religious tensions are rising and European-American relations are at times uneasy, Advancing Democracy contributes to a better and more harmonious future by encouraging cross-border cooperation and building a network of open-minded, liberal individuals.