June 4, 2018 — Jerusalem, Israel
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) Global Forum will convene June 10-13 in Jerusalem, Israel. The four-day conference is the signature annual event of AJC, the premier Jewish global advocacy organization.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will deliver the keynote address at the opening plenary session. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will host AJC’s Board of Governors at his official residence during the Global Forum.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, whose country holds the current EU presidency, Tamar Chugoshvili, First Deputy Chairperson of the Parliament of Georgia and Chair of the Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (via video), and Argentine President Mauricio Macri (via video) will be speaking at other plenary sessions.
AJC, the first American Jewish organization to open an office in Jerusalem, in 1962, has been actively engaged with Israel since the country’s rebirth in 1948. Key to AJC’s advocacy for Israel is the organization’s year-round diplomatic activity. AJC delegations regularly visit capitals around the world to meet with top government officials and Jewish community leaders. In all, AJC engages with approximately 115 countries each year.
AJC has also been a longstanding pioneer in interreligious relations, most recently in advancing Muslim-Jewish relations. In that spirit, a leader of the world’s largest Muslim organization, Yahya Cholil Staquf, General Secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) Supreme Council in Indonesia, will address the AJC Global Forum, kicking-off his first visit to Israel.
More than 2,100 participants, including hundreds of young Jews, from across the United States and many other countries are expected to attend. It will be the first time in AJC’s 112-year history that the conference convenes outside the United States. It also will be the largest ever for an American Jewish advocacy organization in Jerusalem.
“We enthusiastically are coming to Israel, to the capital city of Jerusalem, to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Israel’s rebirth, and to demonstrate by our presence our deep solidarity with, and enduring support, for Israel,” said AJC CEO David Harris. “The 2,100-plus attendance is way beyond our most optimistic projection, underscoring the strong ties between Israel and the AJC global community.”
Holding the AJC Global Forum in Israel’s capital affords opportunities to hear from Israeli leaders across the political spectrum, including MK Tzipi Livni, co-leader of the Zionist Union and head of Hatnua party; MK Avi Gabbay, head of the Zionist Union; and Naftali Bennett, Israel’s Minister of Education and Minister of Diaspora Affairs, and chairman of the Jewish Home party.
Jewish religious pluralism, a priority concern for AJC, is a major theme throughout the AJC Global Forum. AJC President John Shapiro; Robert Lapin, member of AJC’s Executive Council and chair of the Contemporary Jewish Life Commission; Dov Zakheim, chair of AJC’s Jewish Religious Equality Coalition (J-REC); and Steven Bayme, AJC Director of Contemporary Jewish Life, will speak at a special Knesset hearing. On the final morning of the AJC Global Forum, all participants will gather at Davidson’s Plaza, south of the Western Wall, in a show of solidarity for religious pluralism. Speakers will include MK Aliza Lavie, Daniel Shapiro, U.S. Ambassador to Israel (2011-2017); Chair of the AJC Board of Governors Harriet Schleifer; and Kim Pimley, member of AJC’s Executive Council.
For the ninth annual AJC Global Forum “Great Debate,” Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi and Labor MK Stav Shaffir will face-off over the pressing question of whether resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be pursued by a one-state or a two-state solution.
What’s next for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, 25 years after the Oslo Accords, will be explored by Nickolay Mladenov, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process; Fernando Gentilini, EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process; Dennis Ross, Counselor, The Washington Institute; and Tal Becker, Legal Adviser, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel.
Relations between American Jews and Israelis are of paramount concern to AJC. Israeli perceptions of the Diaspora will be explored in a conversation moderated by Rabbi Dov Lipman, former Yesh Atid MK, with former Labor Knesset Member Einat Wilf; Micah Goodman, CEO, Beit Midrash Yisraeli – Ein Prat; and Uri Misgav, Haaretz Commentator and Writer.
Israeli perspectives of the U.S.-Israel relationship will be discussed by Ambassador Ron Prosor, Abba Eban Chair of International Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC), and Israel’s Ambassador to the UN (2011 – 2015); Salai Meridor, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. (2006-09); Eran Lerman, former Deputy for Foreign Policy and International Affairs at the National Security Council in the Israeli Prime Minister's Office and former director of AJC Jerusalem; and Zionist Union MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verdin. Jerusalem Post Editor-In-Chief Yaakov Katz will moderate the discussion.
An assessment of global media coverage of Israel will be discussed by several foreign correspondents based in Israel, including Henrique Cymerman, who writes for media outlets in the U.S., Latin America, Europe, and Israel; Josef Federman, Associated Press Bureau Chief for Israel and the Palestinian Territories, who also chairs the Foreign Press Association; Sarah Lemel, Bureau Chief of the German Press Agency (DPA); and Majdi Halabi, correspondent for the London-based Saudi Arabian Elaph. AJC Jerusalem Director Avital Leibovich, who previously served as head of the Interactive Media Branch of the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, will be the moderator.
The Iranian threat and future of the nuclear deal will be discussed by Emily Landau, Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Arms Control and Regional Security program at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS); Meir Javedanfar, Lecturer, Author, and Commentator on Iranian Politics at the IDC; Matthew Levitt, Fromer-Wexler Fellow, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy; and Daniel Shapiro, Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the INSS.
One of Israel’s leading demographers and two Knesset members will engage in a discussion about Israel’s evolution as the nation-state of the Jewish people. The panelists are Sergio Della Pergola, Professor Emeritus, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Zionist Union MK Ksenia Svetlova, who serves on the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and its Aliyah and Absorption Committee; and Likud MK Yehuda Glick, founder and head of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation.
Tackling the question of whether anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism will be Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, Director of AJC Europe; Dore Gold, President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs; Gerald Steinberg, President of NGO Monitor; and Düzen Tekkal, German-Yazidi Journalist and Chairwoman of Hawar.help.
Two of AJC’s prestigious Moral Courage Awards will be presented during the AJC Global Forum, one to Sandra Samuel, an Indian nanny who saved the life of two-year-old Moshe Holtzberg during the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. The other award will be presented to the Galilee Medical Center for its leadership in treating Syrians seriously injured in their country’s civil war.
At each plenary session, a world leader who took heroic diplomatic action on behalf of Israel will be memorialized. They include:
-- U.S. President Harry S. Truman, who immediately recognized Israel in 1948, will be remembered by Kurt Graham, Director of the Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri.
-- Dr. Jorge Garcia-Granados, who was Guatemala’s Ambassador to the UN in 1947, cast the first vote in favor of the UN Partition Plan, and encouraged other Latin American countries to also support it, will be remembered by his granddaughter, Carla Garcia-Granados.
-- Oswaldo Aranha, who was Brazil’s Ambassador to the UN and President of the UN General Assembly, presided over the resolution approving the partition plan, setting the stage for Israel’s rebirth. He will be honored by his grandson, Pedro Corrêa do Lago.
-- Costantinos Mitsotakis, who, as Greece’s prime minster took the initiative to significantly upgrade diplomatic relations with Israel in 1990, will be memorialized by his son, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who heads Greece’s New Democracy party.
Throughout the AJC Global Forum, nine individuals, representative of Israel’s history, achievements, and diverse population, will share, in TED-talk style, their personal stories.
In addition, a special highlight for AJC Global Forum attendees is the opportunity to engage directly with ambassadors in private. This year, in Jerusalem, there will be 25 parallel advocacy-in-action lunches with ambassadors based in Israel.
And, during the conference, there will be 18 simultaneous excursions to visit and meet with experts at key strategic, counter-terrorism, innovation, absorption, interreligious, Israeli Arab, and ultra-Orthodox sites.