June 7, 2021 — New York
Project Interchange (PI), American Jewish Committee’s signature educational institute introducing Israel to leaders from the United States and countries around the world, plans to host delegations of policymakers and opinion influencers from countries that signed the Abraham Accords last year.
The new initiative, announced today to a worldwide audience attending the 2021 AJC Virtual Global Forum is intended to support the growing foundation of peaceful cooperation in the region.
The first educational seminar in Israel for Arab Gulf leaders will take place in November, and a second group will come in January 2022. The expansion of AJC Project Interchange programming builds on the global Jewish advocacy organization’s intensive engagement with Gulf Arab and North African governments and civil society, as well as regular visits to the region, over the past 30 years. AJC’s new office in Abu Dhabi will be centrally involved in arranging the delegations.
Outreach to global Muslim leaders has been an important feature of Project Interchange’s work for more than 15 years. To date, nine groups of U.S. Muslim leaders, nine from Germany and France, three from India and Indonesia, and one from North Africa have visited Israel with AJC’s Project Interchange. Now that effort will expand to include new opportunities in the Arab world.
“Experiencing Israel with Project Interchange is transformative for many first-time visitors. They gain a greater understanding of the reality and complexity of Israeli democratic society, the nation’s challenges and signature accomplishments,” said Nisha Abkarian, Director of AJC Project Interchange. “The August 2020 signing of the Abraham Accords represented a seismic shift in global geopolitics, one which heralds new opportunities to broaden understanding of, and cooperation with, Israel.”
In addition to hosting more delegations from the Arab and Muslim worlds in Israel, many groups from the U.S. and Europe will have the opportunity, after experiencing Israel with PI, to visit one of the Arab countries that signed normalization deals with Israel. This is another new initiative to contribute to deepened understanding of the dynamics of peaceful conflict resolution and the development of mutual understanding.
Since 1982, more than 6,000 leaders from over 115 countries and all 50 U.S. states have gained in-depth insights into Israel via direct, unfiltered engagement with Israeli Jewish and Arab leaders, business and civic executives, and academics, and visits to historic and strategic sites.
The collective experiences during the weeklong educational seminars build common ground and identify areas for potential collaboration and partnership. Meetings with Palestinian leaders provide additional insight into life in the West Bank and the complexities of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
“The groundbreaking expansion of AJC’s Project Interchange to include visits from and to Arab countries is aimed at reinforcing regional collaboration and, as a consequence, the circle of peace,” added AJC CEO David Harris.