American Jewish Committee


American Jewish Committee

Infobox Organization
name = American Jewish Committee


size = 174px
motto = A Century of Leadership
formation = 1906
headquarters = New York, NY
type = Human Rights, Pro-Israel, Human Relations
leader_title = Executive Director
leader_name = David A. Harris
key_people = Richard Sideman - President
website = [http://www.ajc.org/ www.ajc.org/]
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) was "founded in 1906 with the aim of rallying all sections of American Jewry to defend the rights of Jews all over the world. [cite book |title=A History of the Jewish People |author=H. H. Ben-Sasson |year=1976 |format=paper |publisher=Harvard University Press ] It is one of the oldest Jewish advocacy organizations in the United States, [ [http://www.jewishquarterly.org/article.asp?articleid=170 Speaking to Power: Nathan Abrams assesses the changing fortunes of Commentary magazine] , "Jewish Quarterly".] and has been described by The New York Times as "the dean of American Jewish organizations."

About

The American Jewish Committee, established in 1906 by a small group of American Jews deeply concerned about pogroms aimed at Russian Jews, determined that the best way to protect Jewish populations in danger would be to work towards a world in which all peoples were accorded respect and dignity.

AJC is an international think tank and advocacy organization whose key areas of focus are: combating anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry; promoting pluralism and shared democratic values; supporting Israel's quest for peace and security; advocating for energy independence; strengthening Jewish life.

The organization has local chapters in 32 American cities, 8 overseas offices, and 27 international partnerships with Jewish communal institutions around the world.

AJC's American offices include the Belfer Center for American Pluralism, the Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, Contemporary Jewish Life, Domestic Policy and Legal Affairs, Interreligious Affairs, Latin American Affairs, Middle East and International Terrorism, the Office of Government and International Affairs, Project Interchange, and Russian Affairs. AJC publishes the American Jewish Year Book.

Mission

The organization's mission statement is “to safeguard the welfare and security of Jews in the United States, in Israel, and throughout the world; to strengthen the basic principles of pluralism around the world, as the best defense against anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry; to enhance the quality of American Jewish life by helping to ensure Jewish continuity and deepen the ties between American and Israeli Jews.”

History

AJC was established in 1906 by a small group of American Jews concerned about pogroms aimed at the Jewish population of Russia. "According to the official statement of the committee...it is to prevent infringement of the civil and religious rights of Jews and to alleviate the consequences of persecution." ["New York Times", Nov. 11, 1907, pg 16] AJC has since headed advocacy campaigns on issues such as Holocaust denial, church-state relations, and American dependence on foreign oil.

Louis B. Marshall served as president from 1912 until 1929. Under his tenure, AJC helped create in 1914 the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, established to aid Jewish victims of World War I, and later to play an instrumental role in aiding Jewish victims of World War II and the Holocaust.

Through direct dialogue with the Catholic Church, AJC played a leading role in paving the way for a significant upturn in Jewish-Christian relations in the years leading up to the Roman Catholic Church's 1965 document "Nostra Aetate", and in the ensuing years.

In the 1970s, AJC spearheaded the fight to pass anti-boycott legislation to counter the Arab League boycott of Israel. In 1975, AJC became the first Jewish organization to campaign against the UN's "Zionism is Racism" resolution. In December 1987, AJC's Washington representative, David A. Harris, who would later become the organization's executive director, organized the Freedom Sunday Rally on behalf of Soviet Jewry. 250,000 people attended the D.C. rally, which demanded that the Soviet government allow Jewish emigration from the USSR. In 1992, Japan, citing AJC's diplomacy, reversed its policy of supporting the Arab League boycott of Israel.

In 1997, AJC became the first American Jewish organization to establish a full-time presence in Germany. The AJC Berlin Office / Lawrence and Lee Ramer Institute for German-Jewish Relations, opened in 1998, works to combat anti-Semitism and promote education in democratic values. In 2000, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dore Gold, cited AJC as playing a central role in Israel's gaining acceptance into the UN's Western Europe and Others Group. In 2003, AJC opened in Brussels the Transatlantic Institute, aimed at fostering improved relations between Europe, Israel, and the U.S. That same year, AJC opened a Russian Affairs Division [ [http://www.ajcrussian.org/site/c.chLMK3PKLsF/b.1060559/k.CD2D/104410861084.htm - AJC - Russian] ] to identify and train new leaders in American Jewish public advocacy. In 2005, as part of its continuing efforts [ [http://www.ajc.org/site/c.ijITI2PHKoG/b.835985/k.77CF/Humanitarian_Campaigns.htm Humanitarian Campaigns] ] to respond to humanitarian crises, AJC contributed $2.5 million to relief funds and reconstruction projects for the victims of the South Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.

Controversy

In an essay, "“Progressive” Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism" by Alvin H. Rosenfeld, published on its web site, [cite web |url=http://www.ajc.org/atf/cf/%7B42D75369-D582-4380-8395-D25925B85EAF%7D/PROGRESSIVE_JEWISH_THOUGHT.PDF |title="Progressive" Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism |accessdate=2007-02-08 |author=Alvin H. Rosenfeld |year=2006 |month=December |format=PDF |publisher=American Jewish Committee ] the AJC attacked Jewish critics of Israel by name, particularly the editors and contributors to "Wrestling With Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" (Grove Press), a 2003 collection of essays edited by Tony Kushner and Alisa Solomon. The essay accused them of supporting a rise in anti-Semitism, and of participating in an "onslaught against Zionism and the Jewish State". [cite web |url=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/31/arts/31jews.html
title="Essay Linking Liberal Jews and Anti-Semitism Sparks a Furor" |accessdate=2007-02-08|author=Patricia Cohen |date=2007-01-31 |work=The New York Times
]

"The Forward" called the essay "a shocking tissue of slander" whose intent was to "turn Jews against liberalism and silence critics". [cite web |title="Infamy" |work=The Forward |date=2007-02-01 |url=http://www.forward.com/articles/infamy/ |accessdate=2007-02-08] Richard Cohen remarked that the essay "has given license to the most intolerant and narrow-minded of Israel's defenders so that, as the AJC concedes in my case, any veering from orthodoxy is met with censure or, from someone like Reinharz, the most powerful of all post-Holocaust condemnations—anti-Semite—is diluted beyond recognition". [cite web |author=Richard Cohen |title="Cheapening a Fight Against Hatred" |work=The Washington Post |date=2007-02-06 |url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/05/AR2007020501249.html |accessdate = 2007-02-08]

The essay was also criticized by rabbi Michael Lerner [cite web |url=http://baltimorechronicle.com/2007/020207LERNER.shtml |title=There Is No New Anti-Semitism |accessdate=2007-02-08 |author=Michael Lerner |authorlink=Michael Lerner (rabbi) |date=2007-02-02 |work=The Boston Chronicle] and in op-eds in "The Guardian" [cite web |url=http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/matthew_yglesias/2007/02/matthew_yglesias.html
title="Are we all anti-semites now?" |accessdate=2007-02-08 |author=Matthew Yglesias |date=2007-02-08 |work=The Guardian
] and "The Boston Globe", [cite web |url=http://www.boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/2007/02/07/all_critics_of_israel_arent_anti_semites/
title="All critics of Israel aren't anti-Semites" |accessdate=2007-02-08 |author=Stanley I. Kutler |date=2007-02-07 |work=The Boston Globe
] where Stanley I. Kutler noted that the AJC itself had opposed the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine until 1946.

Executive Director David A. Harris explained why AJC published the Rosenfeld essay in a Jerusalem Post op-ed. [cite web |author=David A. Harris |title="Why AJC Published the Rosenfeld Essay" |work=The Jerusalem Post |date=2007-02-06 |url=http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?apage=1&cid=1170359796236&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull |accessdate = 2008-06-02]

References

ee also

* Martin Luther King, Jr. (Awarded American Liberties Medallion)
* Louis B. Marshall, one of the AJC's German-Jewish founders in 1906, President from 1912 until his death in 1929
* Norman Podhoretz (Retired Editor-in-Chief (1960-1995) of Commentary):* Midge Decter (Podhoretz's wife)
* Projects working for peace among Israelis and Arabs
* Harold Tanner, Past President
* BlueStar PR
* David A. Harris

External links

* [http://www.ajc.org Official website]
* [http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/05/20060504-15.html President attends Centennial dinner]
* [http://ajcarchives.org/main.php AJC Archives]


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