Building Partnerships and Synergies in Countering the Assault on Israel's Legitimacy / M.Stern

From 19 to 21 December 2010, approximately 115 professional Jewish executives from over 30 countries and 60 organizations gathered together with senior officials of 7 government of Israel ministries for an international Strategic Consultation in Jerusalem. The consultation was the result of cooperation and collaboration by the government of Israel and the top Jewish organizations in the world and was sponsored by the WJC. The Consultation addressed the need for a cooperative and collaborative global approach to strengthen the position of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and to defeat attempts to deny its national sovereign rights. The Consultation was opened at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with addresses by Vice Prime Minister Moshe "Bogey" Yaalon, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and keynote speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. PM Netanyahu was introduced by Conference of Presidents Executive Vice Chairman, Malcolm Hoenlein, and WJC Secretary General Designate Dan Diker thanked the PM following his speech. Participants agreed to promote a global and coordinated campaign to counter the current assault on Israel's legitimacy. Other speakers included Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman, Natan Sharansky; former Canadian Justice Minister and current member of parliament, Irwin Cotler; Italian member of parliament, Fiamma Nirenstein, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs President and former Israel Ambassador to UN, Amb. Dore Gold, Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee, David Harris; and Executive Vice President of B’nai B’rith International, Dan Mariaschin. The two and a half days were dedicated to bottom line practical working sessions to develop strategies and mechanisms that the Jewish world – both Israel and the Jewish organizational world – can develop and execute together as a global network.

Reflections on the Strategic Consultation

Even after over 20 years of working with the WJC, I am still occasionally surprised by new developments. The latest one which I observed, and participated in, was the Strategic Consultation in Jerusalem.

What was so unique about this Consultation? Wasn't it just another meeting in a Jerusalem hotel discussing the same issues with the same people? No, for once, this meeting was more than that. For the first time, under the leadership of the WJC's newly designated Secretary General, Dan Diker, over 100 professionals from all major Jewish organisations around the word and officials from the key Israeli ministries came together under one roof, to discuss the ever-increasing assault which Israel is facing today. It may not sound like a big deal, but being involved myself in Jewish communal work for over 30 years, and having been frustrated so many times in the past in trying to encourage different Jewish organisations who are working to the same agendas, and often in the same constituencies, to meet, discuss, and cooperate, I can guarantee you that this was a very big deal. There was no fanfare, no press releases, no big egos, no frills: this was just a serious working meeting.

The assault on Israel's legitimacy as the nation state of the Jewish people is not only an "Israeli" issue, it is also a "Jewish" issue: it concerns all of our affiliated communities and organisations around the world. Public opinion does not differentiate between Israeli's and Jews. Whether we are from Argentina, Venezuela, the United States, or France we are seen as one and the same, whether we like to be (as some do) or not (as some don't).

Such a meeting was long overdue. The discussions were very productive and gave rise to plenty of food for thought. But most importantly the imperative for all of us -- no matter which Jewish organisation we belong to or represent, no matter where we are in the world, and no matter what our personal objectives are -- to work together was clear.

But now comes the next challenge: putting into action the strategies that we have discussed. I hope that the spirit of cooperation and teamwork which we all shared in the King David hotel will not dissipate as we return home to our daily work.

Maram Stern, Deputy Secretary General of the World Jewish Congress

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