AJC Passport is a weekly podcast analyzing global affairs through a Jewish lens. Recorded each week in AJC’s Lerner Studio, AJC Passport examines political events, the people driving them, and what it all means for the Jewish community. Check out all of our episodes below. You can also subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher, or follow on Soundcloud. If you like what you hear, subscribe, rate it, and spread the word.
*The views and opinions expressed by guests do not necessarily reflect the views or position of AJC.
As we recorded this episode on Thursday morning, southern Israel was battered by rockets from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Our guest, former IDF Spokesperson and retired Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, provided a briefing on the attacks before diving into the topic of the week: the protest against the Nation-State law, and why he joined it. Our second guest was AJC Washington Director Alan Ronkin, who discussed how AJC joined forces with the Urban League to combat the alt-right ahead of this weekend’s racist rally in our nation’s capital.
Is President Trump trying to get Iran to come back to the negotiating table? During a press conference on Monday with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Trump indicated that he would be ready to meet with Iranian leaders without preconditions. We therefore decided to open up the AJC vault and share with you a conversation we recorded with Emily Landau, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, who talked about precisely this strategy. Landau leads the institute’s Arms Control and Regional Security Program and is an expert on Iran’s nuclear efforts. Our second segment is on a topic that comes up regularly and generates a fair amount of anxiety: Jewish demographics in Israel and America.
Is Israel becoming a litmus test on the “woke” left? This week, Teen Vogue published an article that sought to tie issues of police brutality in the United States to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians. Our guest this week is journalist Emily Shire, who joins us to explain the evolution of Teen Vogue and give us a follow-up on her viral New York Times article from 2017, which asked if feminism still has room for Zionist women. For our second segment, we are joined by AJC Jerusalem Director Lt. Col. (Res.) Avital Leibovich to discuss Israel’s heroic effort to save the ‘White Helmets’—Syrian medics who have themselves saved countless Syrian lives during the country’s brutal civil war.
President Trump had a headline-grabbing visit to Europe. During the trip, he called the European Union a foe of the United States and received sharp blowback for his deferential approach to contentious questions such as whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Over in Israel, a controversial bill that would define the character of the state passed over the objections of Israel’s president and leading Jewish organizations around the world, including AJC. Joining us to discuss the reaction to the Trump-Putin summit is Andrew Weiss, Vice President at the Carnegie Institute and long-time Russia expert, who spent years serving in administrations of both parties advising on Russia policy. We’re also joined by Dr. Stephen Bayme, AJC Director of Contemporary Jewish Life and American Jewish-Israeli relations to discuss Israel’s nation-state bill, what it means for Israel, and what it means for Israel-diaspora relations.
A confirmation battle is brewing. This week on AJC Passport, we dive into the world of U.S. Supreme Court nominations. Joining us to discuss this hot-button issue is AJC General Counsel Marc Stern, who has appeared four times before the Supreme Court and is one of the Jewish community’s experts on the court, the separation of church and state, and religious liberty. Stern talks to us about Brett Kavanaugh, and what everyone gets wrong about confirmation fights. The segment is followed by a conversation with Eric Kaler, president of the University of Minnesota and esteemed chemical engineer, who recently traveled to Israel with AJC Passport host Seffi Kogen as part of an AJC Project Interchange delegation. Hear his take on what Israeli universities do well and why he openly supports ties with the Jewish state despite the anti-Israel activism among his students.
A political earthquake just shook Mexico. This week, in a landslide victory, political outsider and left-wing nationalist Andrés Manuel López Obrador won the Mexican presidency with an anti-establishment and anti-corruption campaign. Joining us to discuss this dramatic development is Dina Siegel Vann, Director of the AJC Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs. Our second guest this week is our Warsaw-based Director of AJC Central Europe, Agnieszka Markiewicz, who is joining us to discuss recent changes to Poland’s controversial Holocaust law and the recent “No to Hatred” conference AJC Central Europe co-hosted with the city of Warsaw.
Last week, we took you front and center at AJC Global Forum in Israel by bringing you the much-anticipated Great Debate. This week, we take you behind the scenes and bring you some exclusive conversations from our biggest event earlier this month. First up, friend of AJC Passport and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro (2011-17) discusses the outcomes of the embassy move to Jerusalem and Israel’s endgame in Syria. We also explore the implications of potential U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The Ambassador is followed by UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, who leads the UN efforts related to Israeli-Palestinian peace. We discuss the major challenges of the peace process.
For those of you who were unable to join us in Jerusalem for the AJC Global Forum—or for those who want to relive the moment—we’re bringing you this year’s Great Debate. In the 2018 iteration of this AJC Global Forum staple, Member of Knesset Stav Shaffir of the Labor party faced off against Mayor Oded Revivi of the West Bank settlement of Efrat. Their question: “One State or Two States, Is There a Solution?"
AJC Passport hits the road! This week’s episode comes to you from Jerusalem. Recorded in front of a live audience for the first time, we sat down with journalist and author Matti Friedman to discuss one of the least reported-on angles of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the press that covers the struggle. Drawing on his years of experience as an AP reporter, Friedman talked with us about how the editorial process shapes coverage and fielded questions from the audience of more than 350 college students who participated in the AJC Global Forum 2018.
Can the stories Israelis and Palestinians tell about their history help them achieve peace? It's a question that keeps acclaimed author Yossi Klein Halevi up at night. This week’s AJC Passport features a special conversation with Klein Halevi. He discusses grappling with this question and how it led him to write his latest book, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor. Hear him explain what he wants Palestinians to know about Israel's national narrative and how this knowledge might help both peoples understand each other. Klein Halevi also contributed an essay titled “The Future of the American Jewish-Israeli Relationship” for the recently-released 2018 AJC publication, Twenty-Five Essays about the Current State of Israeli-American Jewish Relations.
Is Congress stepping up its efforts to combat rising anti-Semitism? In recent days, calls have rung out from Capitol Hill to fill the long-vacant position of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism at the U.S. State Department. Also, a new bill was introduced that would help define anti-Semitism to better fight it in schools and on college campuses across the nation. Joining us to share his insights from Washington, D.C., is AJC Associate Executive Director for Policy Jason Isaacson, who has worked closely with members of Congress on both issues. We are also joined by Emily Soloff, AJC National Associate Director for Interreligious and Intergroup Relations, to discuss how the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has become a ritual of anti-Israel demonization and consider what that means for Presbyterian-Jewish relations.
What does the future of the Democratic party look like? There are competing visions and some cause more anxiety in Jewish voters than others. Joining us this week from South Bend, Indiana is Pete Buttigieg, a young mayor with an impressive list of accomplishments. Mayor Pete, as his constituents call him, is helping to reinvigorate his Midwest city. Hailed by President Obama as a rising star of the Democratic party, Pete talks with us about his recent experience visiting Israel and what the party stands to learn from the Jewish state. We were also joined by Stephanie Guiloff, Deputy Director of AJC’s Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs, to talk about an aggressive anti-Israel campaign in Chile, which borders on anti-Semitism.
What’s happening in Gaza? Is it a protest? An assault? A cynical media ploy? Some combination of the above? Join us for this week’s episode of AJC Passport as we examine the disturbing news of renewed violence out of Gaza. We’re joined by New York Times correspondent Isabel Kershner, whose coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the past 28 years gives her a unique vantage point on this week’s events.
The “fix it or nix it” question has been answered. On Tuesday, President Trump announced that the U.S. is withdrawing from the JCPOA and reinstating crippling sanctions against Iran. The reaction in Israel and the Gulf was positive; Europe responded with a mix of disappointment and anger. But the question everyone is asking now is: what comes next? Joining us this week is Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). As an Iran expert who advised the Trump, Obama, and Bush administrations, Mark offers us a unique vantage point on the flaws of the Iran deal and what lies ahead. We also spoke with Dr. Matthew Levitt, author of Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Party of God and Director on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, about the recent elections in Lebanon and the escalating confrontation between Israel and Iran in Syria.
As May 12 nears, President Trump has a decision to make: will he or won’t he waive sanctions on Iran as part of the nuclear deal (JCPOA)? In January, the President told the world that he would extend sanctions relief one last time so Europe and the U.S. could fix the deal’s flaws. Now, as the next deadline approaches, leaders from Europe have visited the White House in an attempt to persuade the Commander in Chief not to scrap the deal. On this week’s AJC Passport we were joined by Daniel Schwammenthal, Director of the Brussels-based AJC Transatlantic Institute, to discuss the European perspective on the future of the JCPOA as well as reactions to Israel’s recent intel coup, which proved unequivocally that Iran lied about the nature of its nuclear program.
This week on AJC Passport, we turn our eyes to Berlin where 2,000 Jews, Muslims, Christians, and others rallied in response to a bizarre anti-Semitic assault last week…against a young Arab man who had donned a kippah to prove to his Jewish friend that it was safe to wear one on the streets of Berlin. Deidre Berger, director of AJC Berlin joined us to explain exactly what happened and to discuss the state of anti-Semitism in Germany. She also walked us through AJC Europe’s 3i conference that dealt with the critical issues of immigration, integration, and identity. We also spoke with Haaretz staff writer and The Promised Podcast panelist Allison Kaplan Sommer regarding the recent controversy surrounding Natalie Portman’s decision to back out of receiving the Genesis Prize in Israel.
This week on AJC Passport we celebrated a historic milestone: 70 years since the founding of the State of Israel. On this special occasion, we spoke with three figures—a politician, a historian, and an advocate—to hear their thoughts on Israel's anniversary, and their hopes for Israel's future. For a political perspective, we were joined by Israeli Member of Knesset Tzipi Livni, the leader of the Hatnuah party and former Foreign Minister. For a historical analysis, we spoke with Francine Klagsbrun, a writer and activist whose most recent work, Lioness, is a nuanced biography of Golda Meir. Finally, for an advocate's take on Israel's future, we sat down with AJC CEO David Harris, who has decades of experience promoting Israel's place in the world.
This week on AJC Passport, we’re bringing you rapid reaction to the hearings the Senate Foreign Relations held this week to determine whether to advance the nomination of CIA Director and former Congressman Mike Pompeo. Jason Isaacson, AJC’s Associate Executive Director for Policy, joined us from Washington, D.C., to analyze the potentially contentious confirmation process and what Pompeo’s transition into this new role would mean for American foreign policy. Then, listen in on our conversation with Ambassador Dennis Ross about Iran’s adventurism in the Middle East and the future of the Iran nuclear deal.
As Jews across the world celebrated Passover, Palestinians in Gaza staged a massive protest on Israel’s border. Armed Hamas terrorists fired on Israeli soldiers and tried to breach the border fence. Israel responded to the violence, prompting a great deal of international scrutiny. In this week’s AJC Passport, we spoke with Ambassador Dennis Ross, a career diplomat who has spent much of his career working first-hand on Israeli-Palestinian peace, about the hardships Gazans must cope with, the security challenges Israel faces, and the prospects for the Trump administration’s peace proposal. We also spoke with Haaretz's Washington D.C. correspondent Amir Tibon on this week's short-lived deal to keep more than half of the African asylum seekers in Israel while sending the rest to other western countries for resettlement. Just 20 hours after Prime Minister Netanyahu announced the agreement he had reached with the UN to a great deal of fanfare—and much right-wing opposition—he backtracked and formally canceled it.
In just a few short weeks, President Trump has reshuffled key foreign policy roles in his administration. In the latest episode of AJC Passport, we spoke with Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor in the George W. Bush administration. We discussed the import of these changes, and how they’ll affect the upcoming U.S.-North Korea meeting and the upcoming decision on the future of the Iran nuclear deal. AJC Europe Director Simone Rodan-Benzaquen also joined us to discuss the horrific anti-Semitic murder of 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris.
As hate incidents against Jews in Britain reach record levels, its Labour Party continues to be plagued by one anti-Semitism scandal after another. In our latest episode of AJC Passport, we speak with John Mann, Labour Party MP and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Anti-Semitism, to explore the deeply rooted anti-Semitic views of certain party members, and whether party leader Jeremy Corbyn can find his way out of the scandal. Belle Yoeli, Assistant Director of AJC’s Office of Political Outreach, also joined us to discuss the impending passage of the Taylor Force Act.
When Tamika Mallory attended an event hosted by the head of the Nation of Islam, notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, she exposed the Women’s March movement she co-chairs to a torrent of criticism. In their belated response, the leaders of the Women’s March distanced themselves from Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism, but declined to reject him outright. We talked with Adam Serwer, Senior Editor at The Atlantic on Farrakhan’s influence in the Black community, and the pitfalls he represents for the progressive leaders of the Women’s March.
President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu met this week in Washington, to discuss issues critical to the U.S.-Israel relationship. In this week’s AJC Passport, we unpacked the visit and checked in on the state of the crucial bilateral tie with former U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Israel from 2011-2017. We also chatted with The Jerusalem Post's Washington Bureau Chief Michael Wilner about the political objectives of both leaders and how their domestic challenges are playing with one another's audience.
From Nazis marching in Charlottesville to attacks on Jews in the streets of Europe, anti-Semitism persists around the world. In this week's AJC Passport, we talked with Ira Forman, the former Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism at the U.S. State Department, about the international trends in anti-Semitic attitudes.
In our latest episode, we discuss the Munich Security Conference, a premiere meeting of global political and military leaders. Prime Minister Netanyahu made headlines at the conference by warning Iran not to "test Israel’s resolve” in response to recent Iranian provocations. Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki responded to an Israeli journalist’s question about the country’s Holocaust law by invoking “Jewish perpetrators.” AJC Berlin-Ramer Director Deidre Berger was at the conference and joins us to discuss its outcomes.
Join us for a conversation with North Korea expert Jamie Metzl, a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, on North Korea’s Olympic charm offensive. Then, we talk with Lt. Col. (res.) Avital Leibovitch, Director of AJC Jerusalem, about the recent violent flare-up on Israel's northern border.
Is the bipartisan consensus on Israel fading away? What do American Jews think about Israel? We talked to the experts and examined the data.
What drove Poland to legislate the Holocaust? What do Polish Jews and the public at large think about it? We explore all the angles of this fraught and complicated subject.
We analyzed Vice President Pence’s trip to Israel and the drivers behind the Evangelical community’s staunch pro-Israel outlook.
Far-right parties rode a wave of anti-immigrant and xenophobic sentiment to electoral success in 2017. Learn how Germany and Austria responded.
Three years since an Islamist terrorist murdered four French Jews in a kosher supermarket, we examine what the French government, society, and Jewish community have internalized.
How did year one of the Trump administration’s policies towards Israel and the peace process turn out?
Protesters are taking to the streets across Iran. We took a deep dive into how Iran’s Jewish and Muslim diaspora are responding, as well as the muted reaction from Iran’s major trading partners in Europe.