By Greg Averbuch and Dov Wilker | American Jewish Committee
On Rosh Hashanah, we not only reflect on the past, but also look ahead to the future. That’s something American Jewish Committee has done since its founding 110 years ago and more than 70 years ago in Atlanta — seeking to build a future of peace and security for Jewish communities around the world.
Today, as we look to the future, we face extraordinary challenges: an alarming rise in anti-Semitism, growing radicalism and extremism, and constant assaults on Israel’s very legitimacy.
In Atlanta, we have worked purposefully and diligently to achieve tangible results on these issues:
Assaults on Israel’s Legitimacy
AJC is determined to confront and expose BDS — the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which seeks to isolate and ultimately destroy Israel.
In June we launched a new initiative: Governors United Against BDS. Through this campaign, 21 governors, including Georgia’s Nathan Deal, have already gone on record condemning BDS and demonstrating their states’ steadfast support for Israel.
Nationally, AJC helped secure passage of anti-BDS legislation in several states, among them California, Georgia, New York and Pennsylvania. Now we are working toward federal legislation.
Also, AJC provided legal assistance that proved indispensable in blocking the multicampus University of California system from boycotting Israel, just as we defended student leaders — Jewish and non-Jewish — who were targeted by BDS activists.
After news broke that a leading charity was funneling money to Hamas, AJC Berlin learned that the German government was one of the charity’s funders. AJC demanded a suspension of the funding, setting off a chain of events that induced the German government to do just that.
Hamas wasn’t the only terror group AJC Berlin took on. Acting on a legal brief commissioned by AJC, the Berlin State Senate banned the display of Hezbollah insignia at the city’s annual pro-Iran/anti-Israel Al-Quds rally and issued wide-ranging restrictions on anti-Semitic banners and chants.
Through our local office in Atlanta, we continue to meet with members of the consular corps to counter the voices of radicalism and champion democratic values.
Combating Global Anti-Semitism
AJC created the largest public statement against anti-Semitism in history with our Mayors United Against Anti-Semitism campaign. To date, more than 500 European and American mayors, representing over 150 million people, have signed a pledge to combat any and all forms of anti-Semitism in their jurisdictions, including the exploitation of opposition to Israeli policies to promote anti-Semitism.
We are fortunate that Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed was one of the first mayors to sign and was joined by the mayors of Augusta, Decatur, Johns Creek, Macon-Bibb County, Roswell, Sandy Springs and Savannah, as well as mayors from Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Looking Toward the Future
AJC is tackling the challenges and meeting the opportunities of the 21st century.
Over the past year, AJC has begun writing the next chapter in Muslim-Jewish relations, bringing Muslim leaders from Africa, Asia and the U.S. to see Israel firsthand. These complement our continued efforts to meet with the diverse Muslim community that we have in Atlanta and advise Jewish communities across the Southeast how they can do the same.
Such breakthroughs are possible only because of friends like you. So during the High Holidays, as you contemplate the past and reflect on what’s to come, consider the difference you can make through AJC in building a safer and more peaceful future.
Your AJC Atlanta family thanks you for your ongoing support and friendship and wishes you and yours a happy, healthy and sweet new year.
Greg Averbuch is the president and Dov Wilker is the regional director of AJC Atlanta.