AJC Forum Reflections - Yana Yasevich, Bronfman Center Student Leader
At the beginning of June, I attended AJC’s annual Global Forum, a three-day conference devoted to highlighting the committee’s programming and bringing together a diverse collective of thought leaders and visionaries to boldly, passionately and intelligently discuss the greatest issues facing Israel, foreign policy and diplomatic relations today.
To provide full disclosure, my attendance at the conference was my first exposure to AJC – I was unfamiliar with the American Jewish Committee, what they did, and what the goal of the conference was. Though this unfamiliar approach to an extended conference could have gone both ways, I ended up truly blown away by the quality of the event. Several hours after my arrival in Washington D.C., our group of university students, the first of its kind to be assembled, heard from AJC CEO David Harris. In extending a warm welcome, David shared with us the committee’s mission and activities since its inception in 1913, highlighting its incredible advocacy for the Japanese during World War II, African Americans throughout the Civil Rights movement, and women in their push for equality. He proudly conveyed AJC’s devotion to lobbying for those who need the support of a louder voice, regardless of nationality or religious affiliation.
Over the course of the weekend, we attended and participated in various discussion groups and panels. With Hillel’s President Eric Fingerhunt and Stanford’s Rabbi Serena Eisenberg, we examined Jewish life on campus, sharing with one another both our hopes for the future and the challenges we currently face. Through the patient, intelligent and deeply respectful words of Dr. Tal Becker and NSA Susan Rice, we explored in depth the great trials of diplomacy and foreign relations. Listening to panels of exceptional journalists converse, we witnessed the tremendous diversity of thought and opinion even within Israel itself, giving faces to the multitude of opinions we often hear.
At its heart, every discussion and panel was rooted in deep respect and understanding, in awareness that no one had the singular right answer regarding Israel or its relations with others. We were here to learn from another, to kindly engage in challenging discourse. Personally, I regard this pursuit with the highest esteem, and am tremendously thankful to be part of a collective that seeks to confront its existing beliefs, even if doing so is uncomfortable. The AJC Global Forum is, in my humble opinion, an incredible gathering, and I hope to attend once again in the future.