Participants Listened and Learned
at the AJC Global Forum
AJC CEO David Harris and two young Jewish leaders, AJC’s Deena Fisch and Abe Baker Butler of Rye Brook.
After two years of convening online, this year, AJC Global Forum in New York City brought together thousands of participants to fight for the issues that matter most to world Jewry. Standing up for the Jewish people, Israel and democratic values requires more than words. It demands action. That’s what the Global Forum was about: participants listened and learned, debated and advocated, and grew even more inspired to take on the urgent work that lies ahead at Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York, June 12-14. “The challenges we face are profound, but when we unite to address them together, progress is possible,”. noted the American Jewish Committee (AJC).
In a very special moment in the history of AJC, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the crowd from the frontlines. The courageous and embattled world leader called for a stepped-up response to Russia’s brutal war, debunked Putin’s absurd claims that he is “denazifying” Ukraine and thanked AJC for its significant help. In the earliest days of the war, AJC’s emergency #StandWithUkraine fund raised $2.4 million for urgent humanitarian assistance. AJC’s deep connection to Ukraine began 31 years ago when they stood alone among Jewish groups in backing the restoration of Ukrainian independence. Since then, AJC has remained committed to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Zelensky closed by saying, “We now have a historic opportunity to defend our common freedom, our common security, our common cultural diversity from the greatest wave of hatred.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken delivered a powerful video address to AJC Global Forum. Blinken vowed to the audience that “the United States is committed to working by your side to tackle the alarming rise in antisemitism around the world.” He said that it is a scourge that the entire U.S. State Department—and he personally—takes very seriously. He also didn’t mince words on Israel, declaring that the U.S. “commitment to Israel’s security remains ironclad,” and that dealing with Iran’s nuclear program is a shared top priority. Blinken lauded AJC for its exemplary and steadfast advocacy, saying, “we are so grateful for AJC’s leadership in standing up for democracy and human rights around the globe.”
Since the conference took place in New York, AJC welcomed New York Governor Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams to the Global Forum stage. In her remarks, Gov. Hochul addressed the rise in antisemitism and hate crimes.
She announced that her administration had just issued a proclamation about the importance of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism and how it is vital to the state’s efforts to fight hatred. Mayor Adams, who governs the city with the largest Jewish community in the world, outlined the steps his team is taking to counter Jew-hatred and support the city’s vibrant Jewish life.
AJC honored David Harris at his final Global Forum as AJC CEO. A tireless visionary and a lifelong advocate for the State of Israel and the Jewish people, David built AJC into the leading global Jewish advocacy organization it is today. World leaders, colleagues, friends, and family shared how David has touched their lives and the lives of Jews around the world. They spoke of his immeasurable impact, which will be felt for generations to come.
In one memorable moment, a letter sent by President Joe Biden was read aloud. The President praised David for his extraordinary leadership, saying, “Members of the Jewish community are safer… our nation’s relationship with Israel is strong, and AJC is positioned to address any global challenges facing the Jewish people in the years ahead due, in no small measure, to your leadership.”
“Israel’s great achievement is that, even under the constant assault of terror and hatred, we maintain our values.” In a special video address, Alternate Prime Minister of Israel and Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid spoke about the global struggle between good and evil, with terrorism and violence on one side and freedom and democracy on the other. He also talked of the common bonds shared by Jews throughout the world and reaffirmed the Israeli government’s commitment to the Diaspora.
It takes more than proclamations and laws to eradicate antisemitism. So how can governments around the world stamp out Jew-hatred? To answer that question, AJC Managing Director of Europe Simone Rodan-Benzaquen interviewed Katharina von Schnurbein, the first European Commission Coordinator on Combating Antisemitism, and Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, the U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, at AJC Global Forum as part of The Max Fisher Annual Program.
Nearly two years after the groundbreaking Abraham Accords, UN Ambassadors from Israel, Morocco, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates took the stage for a historic conversation about a new era of peace in the Middle East. Lana Nusseibeh, the UN Ambassador from the UAE, noted that the Abraham Accords “are not just a peace agreement;” they are “a step change in the relationship globally between Islam and the Jewish faith.” As part of the discussion, the UN Ambassador from Israel, Gilad Erdan, praised AJC’s role—going back more than 25 years—in helping to spearhead the Accords and other diplomatic normalization efforts in the Arab world. .
“The antisemitism of our day is anti-Zionism,” said New York Times Op-ed Columnist Bret Stephens. He explained that anti-Zionism should be treated with the same public disgust as other forms of hate and bigotry, but noted his concern that it is an acceptable, even celebrated, point of view on college campuses and increasingly in Congress. Stephens took the stage alongside American University Professor of History and Jewish Studies Dr. Pamela Nadell for a signature AJC Global Forum segment—the Great Debate. This year, they tackled the question: Is the golden age of American Jewry over?
At the Global Forum, incoming AJC CEO Ted Deutch sat down for a one-on-one conversation with journalist and author Abigail Pogrebin. Deutch, who will begin his tenure at AJC on October 1, discussed the importance of Jewish values in his personal and professional life and spoke about his decision to leave Congress and join AJC. He described Israel’s future as bright and said it’s up to all of us to tell this story to the world.
Next year in Tel Aviv! In 2023, AJC Global Forum will return to Israel, June 11-14.
Visit AJC.org/GlobalForumNews2022 for all the news and videos from the conference.