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What does it look like when our vulgar and polarized political era collides with one of American Jews’ oldest and most genteel organizations? Rather like the 2019 American Jewish Committee (AJC) Global Forum.
Last week, nearly 2,500 people representing the United States and 50 other nations gathered in Washington D.C. for the organization’s annual conference. Myriad speakers addressed issues concerning Jews across the world, reflecting AJC’s global advocacy efforts.
Concerns - Days - Speakers - Panels - Videos
Those concerns, which recurred across three days of speakers, panels, and videos, included such weighty issues as the resurgence of anti-Semitism in the United States and Europe, hyper-partisanship in our politics, concerns about the misrepresentation of Jews and other minorities, a defense of values including civility, an affirmation of a community of conscience, and a discussion of whether American global leadership is in decline.
As is typical of these annual conferences, there was a star-studded lineup of speakers. However, as AJC CEO David Harris noted in his call to action this year, organizers focused more than usual on capturing the zeitgeist. So, while the conference included AJC’s hallmark bipartisanship (among speakers) and brainy bent, the event had a different feel this year.
Example - Jason - Isaacson - AJC - Policy
For example, when Jason Isaacson, AJC’s chief policy and political affairs officer, introduced Neera Tanden and Michael Anton’s debate over whether American global leadership is in decline, Isaacson felt compelled to remind the crowd that booing would not be tolerated. I didn’t hear any booing, but having attended multiple such gatherings since 2001, I also don’t recall ever hearing such a warning before. It’s clearly a sign of the times.
Another striking change appeared in the ongoing conversation over resurgent anti-Semitism. A panel on this subject was introduced by a video that led with American examples, including assaults in Brooklyn, as well as the deadly attacks in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Poway, California. AJC has...
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