Day of Dialogue for Israeli Muslims and Jews
More than 200 Israeli Muslims and Jews gathered for an AJC "Day of Dialogue" in Baqa Al Gharbiya, an Israeli Arab village and home to the Al Qasemi Academic College of Education, co-sponsor of the event. Students and faculty from Al Qasemi, Tel Hai Teachers Training College, and Seminar Hakkibutzim Teachers Training College participated. Rabbi Edward Rettig, associate director of AJC's Israel/Middle East Office, addressed the Jewish tradition of dialogue and mutual respect. Other prominent speakers included Isaac Herzog, Israeli minister of tourism; Ghalib Majadla, the Israeli government's first Arab minister; Ambassador Richard Jones, the U.S. ambassador to Israel; and Mohammed Essawi, president of Al Qasemi, who led a delegation to the U.S. last year on an AJC-sponsored visit.
World Economic Forum in Davos
Rabbi David Rosen, AJC's international director of interreligious affairs, was a panelist at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The panel, moderated by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, also included Malaysian Prime Minister Badawi; French Economics Minister Cope; Mohammad Khatemi, former president of Iran; princess Lolwah El Feisal of Saudi Arabia; and Jack De Gioia, president of Georgetown University. Rosen repudiated claims that a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would resolve larger problems in the Middle East, including growing religious extremism and ongoing human rights abuses in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
Russian Foreign Minister Meets AJC Leaders in New York
An AJC leadership delegation met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in New York this afternoon. The hour-long discussion focused on the upcoming meeting of the Quartet in Washington and prospects for advancing Arab-Israeli peace; the Iranian nuclear weapons program and strategies for bringing it to an end; Russian arms sales policies in the Middle East, including Iran and Syria; the Russian desire for ?graduation? from the Jackson-Vanik Amendment; and ideas for deepening Russian-American bilateral ties. The AJC group used the occasion to thank Russia for co-sponsoring the UN initiative last week that condemned Holocaust denial. This was the fourth meeting between AJC and the Russian Foreign Minister in less than a year.
AJC Meets Top German Officials
On a two-day visit to Berlin, an AJC leadership delegation met with top German officials to Iran, prospects for Arab-Israeli peace, German peacekeeping troops in Southern Lebanon, and anti-Semitism in the Middle East and Western Europe. Private meetings were held with Defense Minister Franz Jung; Norbert Lammert, president of the Federal Parliament; Ernst Uhrlau, president of the Federal Intelligence Service; Christoph Heusgen, foreign policy advisor to Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel; Hans-August Hanning, state secretary of the Ministry of the Interior; and Reinhard Silberberg, state secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The delegation met with Israeli Ambassador Shimon Stein and U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission John Koenig. The group participated in a moving demonstration and wreath-laying ceremony at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, organized by Iranians in Germany who oppose the Iranian president's Holocaust denial policy. The delegation also met with leaders of the large Turkish community in Germany, discussing integration, identity and institution-building. In addition, David Harris addressed more than 200 senior officers from the German military, as well as other NATO member countries and Pakistan, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. This was the third time Harris was invited to the Fuhrungsakademie, the Command and Staff College of the German Armed Forces.
AJC Executive Addresses Holocaust Day in Thessaloniki
David Harris was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Holocaust Memorial Day event in Thessaloniki, Greece. The annual commemoration attracted a capacity crowd of nearly one thousand people, including government officials, members of the diplomatic community and civic leaders. During the Second World War, Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city and the center of Sephardic Jewish civilization, was occupied by the Nazis. In March 1943, more than 50,000 Jews were deported from the city to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Only 1,950 survived. By a resolution of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, Harris was formally named an "Honorary Member" for his longstanding commitment to Greek Jewry and AJC's active assistance "whenever it was asked."
Engaging America in Oregon
Susan Abravanel, chair of AJC's Advocacy Task Force, and Emily Gottfried, director of AJC's Portland Chapter, led a workshop, Engaging America: Creating Community through Intergroup Dialogue, for dozens of participants at the first-ever Oregon Civic Engagement Conference. The statewide gathering was convened by The Oregon Commission for Voluntary Action and Service and included David Eisner, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. For more information, visit www.engagingamerica.org. Exploring German Nationalism Today AJC's New York Chapter and ACCESS leadership hosted 100 people for Negotiating Past and Present: Current Trends in Germany's Self-Reflection, a conversation between Ernestine Schlant Bradley, author and scholar of post-war German literature, and Ambassador Dr. Hans-Jürgen Heimsoeth, German Consul General in New York. The event, moderated by Rebecca Neuwirth, AJC's director of special projects and ACCESS, examined the complex issue of German nationalism. The Goethe Institute and JCC in Manhattan co-sponsored the event.
New TV Series on AJC
A series of television programs on AJC are airing on a public access cable channel in Miami, and next week will debut on Time Warner in Manhattan. The series, which includes separate interviews with David Harris, Jason Isaacson, Richard Foltin and other senior AJC staff, as well as a segment on Project Interchange, was created and produced by Suzanne Lasky Gerard and Felice Traktman, Miami Chapter members with extensive professional TV experience. The programs can be viewed in Manhattan on channel 34 on February 2 at 8 PM, and February 13 at 6 PM and February 18 at 10:30 AM. Plans are underway to make them available in other cities across the country, as well as to post segments on the AJC website
Ari M. Gordon Assistant Director Department of Interreligious Affairs American Jewish Committee 165 E56th St. New York, NY 10022 (212) 891-6768 (212) 751-4000 x266 www.ajc.org www.engagingamerica.org