September 12, 2014 — Jerusalem, Israel
A senior AJC leadership delegation just completed a two-day mission to Israel. The group visited both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, where they met with, among others, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin; Former President and Nobel Laureate Shimon Peres; Justice Minister Tzipi Livni; Chief of General Staff of the IDF Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz; Deputy (and Acting) Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzachi Hanegbi; Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat; the Ambassadors of the U.S., Greece, Italy, South Africa, and Spain; and IDF officers and soldiers. The 17-member delegation, led by AJC President Stanley Bergman and Executive Director David Harris, included Rick Berkman, Chair of the AJC National Board of Governors; John Shapiro, Chair of the AJC Board of Trustees; Matthew Bronfman, Chair of AJC Jerusalem; Harriet Schleifer, Chair of AJC's Project Interchange; and Avital Leibovich, who was named earlier this year as the Director of AJC Jerusalem. "We came to Israel to express our solidarity with, and support for, this remarkable beacon of democracy, at a time of dramatic developments in the Middle East," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "We leave better informed, still more inspired, and greatly energized by the will, creativity, courage, and resourcefulness of this vibrant and dynamic country." During the visit, several topics were addressed, including: the ongoing threat posed by Iran's nuclear program and the diplomatic negotiations of the P5+1 with Tehran; the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza; the impact on the region of ISIS; prospects for resuming peace talks with the Palestinian Authority; and Israel's ties with the U.S., Europe, Latin America, and other parts of the world. AJC was the first American Jewish organization, more than a half-century ago, to establish a permanent presence in Israel. Housed in Beit Moses, AJC Jerusalem regularly engages with Israeli government officials and society, as well as diplomatic representatives of scores of foreign countries.