June 4, 2018 — New York, NY
Ahead of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Global Forum, the premier global Jewish advocacy organization has issued a new publication, Twenty-Five Essays About the Current State of Israeli-American Jewish Relations. The relationship between the world’s two largest Jewish communities will be a central theme of this year’s AJC Global Forum, which will take place June 10-13, in Jerusalem.
“The Jewish people stands at a moment of possible fracture between Israel and the Diaspora, due both to the rapid assimilation of American Jewry and to Israeli policies that some believe challenge the liberal values of many American Jews. Both sides of the problem must be addressed, and that is what this written symposium strives to do,” said Steven Bayme, AJC’s Director of Contemporary Jewish Life.
The 25 Israeli and American Jewish intellectuals and opinion leaders who contributed essays were asked to respond to three questions: Which issues pose the greatest challenges to sustaining strong American Jewish-Israeli ties and why? Do you see relations between these two communities becoming closer or more distant over the next five years? What strategies or initiatives ought to be considered to bring both communities closer to one another?
Taken together, the responses summarize the state of the debate on an issue that is attracting growing attention—and concern—in the Jewish world and suggest ways to move forward. Since the contributors represent a broad cross-section of that world, their responses vary widely, some optimistic and others pessimistic; some urging policy changes and other educational initiatives; some urgently calling for greater coordination, others suggesting that distancing is inevitable.
AJC’s involvement in efforts to enhance American Jewish-Israeli ties go back to the early years of the Jewish state, when AJC and Israel promulgated the Blaustein‒Ben-Gurion agreement setting out the original framework for the relationship. In 1962, AJC was the first American Jewish organization to establish a full-time office in Israel, and in 2014 AJC convened the Jewish Religious Equality Coalition to promote equal legal status for all streams of Judaism.
Holding AJC’s signature annual event in Jerusalem and publishing the symposium coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary. It also is the first time in its 112-year history that AJC is holding its Global Forum outside the United States. More than 2,000 participants, including hundreds of young Jews, from across the United States and many other countries are expected to attend.
AJC’s Koppelman Institute on American Jewish-Israeli Relations, which coordinates the organization’s programs in this area, cosponsored the publication of the symposium with AJC’s William Petschek Contemporary Jewish Life Department. Publication was made possible by a grant from the Susan and Jack Lapin Fund.
Twenty-Five Essays About the Current State of Israeli-American Jewish Relations is available at www.AJC.org/diasporasymposium.