Politics and partisanship will take a back seat next week when the annual American Jewish Committee (AJC) Global Forum convenes in Washington, D.C.
More than 2,500 participants from 70 countries are expected to attend the June 4 to 6 event at the Washington Hilton. According to Marcia Bronstein, the AJC’s regional director in Philadelphia, about 70 attendees from the local area will be heading to Washington for the event.
“We have an incredible lineup of speakers,” said Bronstein. Attendees “will hear firsthand from foreign ministers, presidents and other world leaders, and we’re very excited about the advocacy component of the Global Forum.”
The forum leads off June 4 with Angelino Alfano, minister of foreign affairs of Italy, and continues June 5 with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and leaders from Austria, Cyprus, Romania, Singapore, Japan and Israel.
A Monday panel headed by political analyst Bill Kristol will take a look at Jewish perspectives on global trends. He’ll be joined by French author and intellectual Bernard Henri-Lévy and Tzipi Livni, the former foreign minister of Israel.
Gilad Erdan, Israel’s minister of public security, strategic affairs minister and minister of information, will also address the forum, as will Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will participate in a video session on June 6.
That will be followed by a discussion on anti-Semitism with Secretary General Luis Almagro of the Organization of American States and Katharina von Schnurbein, the European Commission coordinator on combating anti-Semitism.
The closing day of the forum will also mark one of the AJC’s most recent accomplishments, when The Wall Street Journal publishes a full-page ad headlined “Governors United Against BDS.” It’s a proclamation from all 50 U.S. governors, as well as the District of Columbia, condemning the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
“The goals of the BDS movement are antithetical to our values and the values of our respective states, our support for Israel as a vital U.S. ally, important economic partner and champion of freedom,” the May 17 proclamation reads. “The BDS movement undermines peacemaking by suggesting that economic and political pressure on Israel can replace real negotiation.”
The bipartisan campaign was co-chaired by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas and Democratic Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Dannel Malloy of Connecticut.
Among other forum highlights is the annual “Great Debate.”
This year’s topic — is “America First,” advancing or compromising U.S. interests abroad? — will be tackled by Michael Doran of the Hudson Institute, who served on the National Security Council under President George W. Bush, and Wendy Sherman of the Albright Stonebridge Group, who served as President Obama’s under secretary of state for political affairs.
The forum will also take time to give out its annual awards.
The Light Unto the Nations Award will go to Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.
Both Lea Kovensky, who survived the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992, and her American rescuer, Bruce Willison, Jr., will receive the Moral Courage Award.
Finally, AJC’s Unity Award will go to three Israelis of different faiths who brought their respective Haifa communities together during a crisis. Rabbi Dov Hayun, Imam Mohammed Amir and Maronite Priest Father Yousef Yakoub were able to mobilize and unify their people to respond to large-scale fires last November and joined together to help rebuild a damaged synagogue.
Founded in 1906, AJC maintains 22 regional offices across the U.S. to go with 10 overseas and 34 international associations.
Bronstein noted that those who will not be able to make it to Washington for the event will be able to view a live webcast of the plenary sessions by signing up at ajc.org/signup.
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