June 30, 2017 — Kigali, Rwanda
An AJC senior leadership delegation met with Rwanda President Paul Kagame and Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo during a four-day visit to the African country.
Dr. Marion Bergman, Chair of AJC’s Africa Institute, AJC Honorary President Stanley M. Bergman, and Harriet Schleifer, Chair of AJC’s Board of Governors, led the group.
"Our world is currently challenged on many fronts by worrying trends, but is also creating great opportunities--and I feel that AJC is a partner of Rwanda in seizing those opportunities with ingenuity and commitment," said Foreign Minister Mushikiwabo.
AJC, the global Jewish advocacy organization, has long been involved with African countries, and specifically with Rwanda since the genocide there in 1994.
“Having risen from the ashes of a genocide in which it stood alone only 23 years ago, Rwanda is impressively forging an identity based on self-reliance and national unity that emphasizes dignity, responsibility, and a forward-looking focus on economic progress,” said AJC Africa Institute Director Eliseo Neuman. “Rwanda is an African country that has great affinities with the Jewish experience.”
The AJC delegation expressed appreciation for Rwanda's close friendship with Israel, as seen by its public support in multilateral fora, including the African Union, and President Kagame’s visits to Israel. Last July, he hosted Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in Rwanda. "It is a pleasure to stand up for things we believe in and against what is not right," said President Kagame, explaining to the AJC visitors his country’s strong support for Israel even as some other African nations stand opposed.
The AJC leaders reaffirmed the organization’s partnership with Rwanda in commemorating the genocide, combating genocide denial, and working to prevent other incidents of mass murder.
In addition to meeting with the president and foreign minister, the AJC delegation met with Rwandan Development Board CEO Clare Akamanzi; Jean-Damascene Gasanabo, Director of Research and Documentation at the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide; U.S. Ambassador Erica Barks-Ruggles; and Israeli Ambassador Belaynesh Zevadia. The group also visited the Gisozi Genocide Memorial.
The strong Israeli-Rwandan relationship was demonstrated during visits to a top-flight agricultural center established by Mashav, an arm of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs; a solar field built by pioneering Israeli company Gigawatt Global--the largest such facility in east Africa when it came on stream, directly connected to Rwanda's grid and powering 5% of the country's electricity needs; and the Agahozo Shalom Village, a school for orphans of the genocide that is modeled after Yemin Orde, an Israeli youth village established in 1953 to care for orphans of the Holocaust.