By Stephen E. Lipken
New American Jewish Committee Westchester/Fairfield (AJC) President Richard W. Cohen, 63, pointed out that AJC is the one organization “where one could take his/her personal aspirations and with AJC’s help, convert them into actions.”
Attracted by AJC’s Centrist sentiments, not aligned politically Right or Left, Cohen stressed, “We deal with who has the power to change the world.
“One of our most important initiatives is Leaders for Tomorrow (LFT). We provide a really comprehensive one-year program of education, interaction and training for High School Juniors and Seniors so that they will be prepared when they get to campus, not just to argue but to deal with people the way AJC does, which is to engage and try to educate,” Cohen stated.
Discussing Project Interchange (PI), Cohen said that PI is AJC’s proudest accomplishment in recent years. “It is easy to go with the flow if you are in the Diplomatic Corps of a non-aligned country or even aligned countries to feel sympathies for Palestinian causes, to read one-sided treatment that some media unfairly gives Israel...
“The best medicine for that is ‘sunlight.’ We take diplomats, legislators, educators, journalists and thought leaders from the United States and other countries to Israel on an all-expenses paid trip where they get to see first-hand what Israelis are like…We don’t sugar coat it…every PI trip includes an unchaperoned day in Ramallah where they get to hear the conflict story from Palestinians…” Cohen noted that bringing African leaders to Israel resulted in trade agreements.
Cohen emphasized that AJC maintains cordial relations with the Muslim community; locally with Richard S. Cohen, Chair, Muslim-Jewish Relations, “knocking on doors of mosques, offering a welcoming hand from AJC” and Bob Silverman, who became the first U.S. Director of Muslim-Jewish Relations on April 20, 2016.
“I personally attended an Iftar, the evening meal during the month of Ramadan, similar to ending the Yom Kippur fast. Many Muslim leaders attend AJC-sponsored Seders.
“AJC is firmly supportive of the Two-State Solution; two states living side by side, recognizing each other’s right to statehood and right to exist…”
A Mamaroneck resident, Cohen is a member of Congregation Emanu-El of Westchester where he and his wife Emily have served as Trustees.