AJC Global Forum 2024 – Washington DC

SAJBD National Chair Professor Karen Milner, SAUJS Western Cape Chair, Erin Dodo, Cape SAJBD Chair, Adrienne Jacobson, and Cape SAJBD Executive Director Daniel Bloch

By DANIEL BLOCH, Executive Director, Cape SAJBD

From 9-11 June 2024, more than 2 000 Jewish leaders from over 50 countries gathered at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington D.C. as the US capital played host to the annual AJC Global Forum. The American Jewish Committee (AJC), is one of the world’s largest advocacy groups fighting for the rights of both the Jewish people and Israel. 

Our Chairperson, Adrienne Jacobson, and Executive Director, Daniel Bloch, joined the SAJBD National Chair, Professor Karen Milner, SAUJS Western Cape Chair, Erin Dodo, and other South Africans and Jewish leaders from around the world to learn from one another, share concerns, identify solutions and ultimately come together in a great show of unity. 

The opening plenary was filled with both heartache and inspiration as we heard from two courageous couples. Orna and Ronen Neutra spoke of their unwavering hope that their son, Omer, who is currently a hostage held in Gaza, will return home safely. Zvi and Dorit Reder recounted their harrowing experiences on October 7th when they saved hundreds of innocent lives. 

A global panel convened, and SAJBD National Chair, Prof Karen Milner, shared feedback from the recent elections and, importantly, about how the South African people voted against the anti-Israel campaign – a true representation of how South Africans truly feel about Israel and the Jewish community.

The next two days were spent in various breakaway sessions hearing about the issues on American university campuses and international campuses, including South Africa, the impact of technology and social media on antisemitism, the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora, and more. The entire programme featured some incredibly inspiring speakers including Congressman Ritchie Torres, Hanna Veiler – Chairperson German Union of Jewish Students, Noa Fay – Student Activist, Columbia University, Jake Sullivan – United State National Security Advisor, and more.

Watch the various plenary sessions at the AJC Global Forum on YouTube here

What was the key takeaway aside from the incredibly important networking and the opportunity to learn from other community leaders? Whilst we may all have similar problems to deal with, whether in the US or Europe, back home in South Africa, our Jewish way of life is still accessible and enjoyed by most Jews. The levels of antisemitism are low, and we do not experience the violent antisemitism that we see happening around the world. And whilst not everyone may agree with the strategy of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, there are many things which we are doing right now to work tirelessly to protect all our civil rights and our way of life – no matter what! And we will continue to do so.

Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies website: www.capesajbd.org, Instagram, and Facebook page.

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