So many highlights and takeaways from another fascinating and inspiring AJC Global Forum 2019
- I was both impressed and moved by the Community of Conscience event that took us back to the times and speeches of President Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr and President Truman and challenged us to reach out to and embrace the other, regardless of religion or race. The follow up was a historic announcement that members of the congressional house are setting up a bipartisan Black / Jewish caucus to stand together now as our leaders have historically stood together.
- I loved the series "Faces of the Diaspora" which featured participants' stories from both large and small Jewish Diaspora communities and the challenges they face. Countries represented were France , UK, Venezuela, South Africa, Bahrain, Myanmar, and Iraq. Some were inspiring; others reflected the frightening rise of anti-semitism or country specific turmoil.
- To balance the unending negative media reporting on Israel, I found the interviews by AJC CEO David Harris of Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu so encouraging.
- Where else can you hear all the democratic presidential hopefuls address the issues of importance to our Jewish people.
- Finally on important issue after issue, we heard insightful voices that presented all sides, from Muslim and Jewish worlds, from Conservative to Liberal views and from different country perspectives. AJC is a centrist, nuanced organization and we listen carefully before forming an opinion.
Stephne is being installed as president of the Westchester-Fairfield region on AJC here at Beth El next Wednesday evening.
For me, there were many conference elements that stood out.
I attended a luncheon involving a discussion between David Harris and Ron Dermer, Israel's Ambassador to the USA, where Ron gave an impassioned presentation about Israel's rise to be considered as a global power, particularly in the areas of technology and cybersecurity. He showed how this has led to significantly enhanced relations with the community of nations, and predicted that one would begin to see a shift in the voting patterns on Israel-related resolutions in the UN.
If AJC's objective at its 2019 Global Forum was to underscore the essential role it plays in advocating on issues facing world Jewry and Israel, and in promoting democratic values for all, it could not have done any better. The speakers and discussions were simply outstanding. But it was when seven Jews representing "Faces of the Diaspora," each walked on stage during the 2½-day program and related their individual stories in TED-like talks, that your pride as a Jew and your desire to fight against bigotry and anti-Semitism knew no bounds.
The AJC Global Forum was a very impressive gathering. The breadth of speakers was remarkable. The audio-visual presentations were extremely well done.
Below are some of my bullet points:
I enjoyed the Forum, especially the session "Anti-Semitism in America Historically Considered, which was presented by Dr. Steven Bayme. While I was somewhat familiar with each of the incidents of Anti-Semitism that Dr. Bayme discussed, I found that he gave details regarding each of them that I was not previously aware of, which made his presentation very insightful. He was an excellent speaker with respect to both content and style.
- Arab countries don't want a democratic Israel because it threatens their dictatorship.
- There are some positive signs of among some Arab countries in regard to Israel such as two Moroccan radio stations beginning to broadcast information about their country's Jewish heritage and 2000 Jordanians work in Eilat with a waiting list of 200,000. This, however, is tempered by the fact that in Morocco, social media is strongly anti-Israel and in Jordanian textbooks Israel does not exist.
- Some quotable quotes:
- "A Korean woman rabbi was not invited to attend the American Woman's March because she is viewed as a man."
- A reason for Israel and Jews to participate in forums where we may not be in total agreement is because: "If you are not at the table you are on the menu"
In a world where the seeds of hatred, bigotry and antisemitism have taken root and sprouted across the world, AJC has proved to be a worthy champion in a never-ending struggle against evil. The speakers at their annual convention presented convincing arguments and ways of combating the poisonous effects of BDS, physical assaults on Jews, bigotry and the hatred that has increased in recent years. There were many highlights but a few in particular resonated with me. David Harris, CEO, was articulate in explaining AJC’s role and its accomplishments. Fighting for the right of Israel to exist by forming relationships with world leaders, speaking to congressional representatives and senators about AJC’s agenda and attaining more visibility through its volunteers. One of the most important activities is our programs on college campuses. Many of them are hotbeds of antisemitism and the need to counteract their misinformation is of paramount importance.