May 28, 2021 — Jerusalem, Israel
An American Jewish Committee (AJC) leadership delegation is visiting Israel in a show of solidarity with the Jewish state. The four-day visit comes soon after a cease-fire ended the latest round of fighting, initiated by Hamas, the terrorist organization ruling Gaza that fired more than 4300 rockets into Israel over 11 days.
The AJC delegation met with Israeli Foreign Minister Gaby Ashkenazi. U.S.-Israel relations four months after the inauguration of President Joe Biden, the challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear and regional activities, and prospects for the peace process were the focus of the conversation.
In addition, AJC CEO met privately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two have known each other for more than 30 years.
“Every trip to Israel is a reminder of the remarkable qualities of this nation,” said AJC CEO David Harris. “This solidarity visit, like so many others AJC has sponsored since 1991, when Iraq fired Scud missiles at Israeli cities, underscores the courage, resilience, ingenuity, and determination of Israelis to defend their country — in this case against Hamas, a genocidal terrorist group. Each trip is also a reminder of how misrepresented and mischaracterized Israel is by many in the media and some countries who seek to demonize this thriving democracy and the lone Jewish-majority country on earth.”
The group met with Ambassador Mohamed Al Khaja of the United Arab Emirates, which, together with Bahrain, signed the Abraham Accords with Israel at the White House last September and has significantly expanded relations with Israel in the past eight months. They also met with Marek Magierowski, Poland’s Ambassador to Israel; Rumiana Bachvarova, Bulgaria’s Ambassador to Israel; Emanuele Giaufret, the EU Ambassador to Israel, Sven Koopmans, EU Special Representative for Middle East Peace Process; Koichi Mizushima, Japan’s Ambassador to Israel; and Levente Benkő, Hungary’s Ambassador to Israel.
The AJC delegation met with key Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials, including Ambassador David Akov, Head of Bureau for Strategic and Economic Affairs; Ambassador David Roet, Deputy Director General and Head of the North American Division; and Zvi Vapni, Head of the North American Bureau; among others.
The AJC group spent time with Leah and Simha Goldin, the parents of Lt. Hadar Goldin, a 23-year-old IDF solider who was abducted and murdered by Hamas in August 2014. AJC has supported efforts by the Goldin family and the Israeli government to seek the return of their son’s body from Gaza for burial in Israel.
In Ashkelon, the AJC delegation met with municipal authorities and visited the Barzilai Medical Center. Harris presented a check to Deputy Director Dr. Gili Givaty for the renovation of a delivery room. Barzilai Medical Center is the main hospital in the southern region of the country, servicing Israelis, Jews and Arabs alike, including patients from Gaza. It was particularly busy during the Hamas-launched war, when 960 rockets were fired at the city of Ashkelon alone. AJC delegations have visited the hospital before and made donations of vital medical equipment, most recently in 2014.