A Report from the 2016 American Jewish Committee Global Forum
A story I heard yesterday from an Israeli journalist: A call goes out to all nations to find a way to take human beings to Mars. The United States announces a plan that will take thirty years, but it will bring a human mission to Mars and bring them home. The Israelis announce they can have a ship ready in FIVE years and will successfully land their crew on Mars. They just won’t have a plan to bring them home. “Once they are there, they can figure that part out.” The upshot is that, at least according to one journalist, Israel has many strengths but doesn’t always consider the long picture.
These days it seems like much of our political discourse throughout the world is playing by those rules. We vote for what or who feels good in the moment, not remembering, as Kennedy once said, that people campaign in poetry but they govern in prose. One of the reasons I like the American Jewish Committee is that it is all about the long view. Unlike many Jewish and political organizations, the AJC was founded in 1906 on the strength of important and serious conversations with movers and shakers (or future ones) from the places of power in the world.
This year’s Global Forum, certainly delivered. In an age of political vulgarity, I only saw here in Washington old fashioned civility and intellectual inquiry. Excellent speakers presented their views on the current challenges of foaming antisemitism (A.K.A., Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions) and the security and political challenges facing Israel. The aftermath of the Iran deal was addressed but without rancor. We were also inspired by moral courage of such greats at the Air France pilot who forty years ago would not abandon his Jewish passengers in Uganda, and the current college students who stand up to bigotry and racism on campus.
I am so proud and pleased that Chicago has such a vibrant AJC chapter. More than one hundred came to the Forum, many Temple Sholom members. 110 years ago, AJC was begun to fight antisemitism and advocate for the Jewish people and global human rights. It’s mission has never been more timely.