November 2, 2015 — New York, New York
The unique work of AJC’s Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs Institute (BILLA) will be showcased during its 10th anniversary celebration in Mexico City from November 8 to 10. The event willbring together the Institute’s diverse constituencies, including AJC leaders, U.S. Latino partners, Ibero-American Jewish representatives and opinion leaders from across the region.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto will deliver the keynote address at the BILLA Tenth Anniversary Gala Dinner, and Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera will speak at a separate dinner during the two-day gathering. For decades AJC, the premier global Jewish advocacy organization, has engaged directly with the governments of Latin America, Spain and Portugal, as well as with Latino leaders in the United States. The creation of BILLA in 2005 firmly established AJC’s preeminent role in promoting Latino-Jewish alliances in the U.S. and strengthening the relationships among the United States, Israel, and each of the Ibero-America countries.
“We are coming to Mexico to celebrate a decade of path-breaking initiatives that have truly advanced cooperation based on shared histories, values and interests,” said AJC BILLA Director Dina Siegel Vann.
BILLA’s domestic, hemispheric, and transnational mandates converge in Mexico, a crucial geopolitical player and one of the United States’ most important diplomatic and economic partners. AJC leaders frequently visit Latin American countries, and under the auspices of BILLA have undertaken joint visits with U.S. Hispanic leaders to Mexico, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico as well as to Israel. AJC also maintains international partnerships with the Jewish communities of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Spain and Venezuela.
During the anniversary event, AJC will honor long-time Latino partner Henry Cisneros with its prestigious Gesher Award. The former Mayor of San Antonio and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development will be recognized for his leadership and commitment to strengthening Latino-Jewish relations and his unwavering friendship towards the State of Israel.
Highlights of BILLA’s first ten years include:
- A landmark national survey of American Hispanic attitudes toward Jews conducted by BILLA in cooperation with Latino Decisions.
- BILLA, together with AJC’s Project Interchange, has organized annual educational seminars in Israel for Latino and Latin American politicians, journalists, business executives, religious leaders and artists.
- National workshops with dozens of emerging leaders of the Mexican-American and Guatemalan-American diaspora communities.
- Launching the bipartisan Latino-Jewish Congressional Caucus in 2011 to further collaborative engagement between U.S. Latino and Jewish Members of Congress on domestic and foreign policy issues.
- The first AJC Project Interchange Seminar co-hosted with the National Council of La Raza led to a Statementof Latino and Jewish Joint Purposeunderscoring the commonalities and affinities between the U.S. Latino and Jewish communities.
- Hosted a National Conversation on the State of Latino-Jewish Relationsin Washington, DC,attended by 100 high-level leaders from both communities.