November 21, 2010 — Brussels — An AJC leadership delegation has just concluded a weeklong mission to Germany, France and Belgium, three key European countries where AJC maintains an official presence.
In Berlin, the delegation and AJC Berlin, under the direction of Deidre Berger, conducted high-level discussions with key officials in the Chancellery and German Foreign Office.
At meetings with State Secretary Dr. Wolf Ruthart-Born and Foreign Policy and Security Advisor to Chancellor Merkel, Christoph Heusgen, AJC raised several issues, including the Iranian nuclear threat and human rights violations, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the UN Human Rights Council five-year review in 2011, the upcoming referendum on independence for southern Sudan, and the Special Tribunal on Lebanon. The group also held discussions with the Israeli and American ambassadors to Germany.
AJC Executive Director David Harris and Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the Munich Security Conference, addressed recent alumni of AJC’s exchange program with insurance giant Allianz. The AJC-Allianz exchange is a pioneering program that brings young German professionals together with their American Jewish counterparts for a weeklong program in Germany.
From Berlin, the group traveled to Paris, where along with AJC Paris Director Simone Rodan-Benzaquen they met with top government officials.
In her very first official meeting as French foreign minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie, received the AJC delegation at the Quai d’Orsay. Items on the agenda included the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons capability, reform of the UN Human Rights Council, Lebanon, and the upcoming referendum in Sudan.
At the Foreign Ministry, AJC also praised the efforts of Ambassador François Zimeray to advance international human rights and promote greater understanding between Arabs and Jews worldwide, as well as of Ambassador Valerie Hoffenberg, former AJC Paris director, to strengthen ties between Israelis and Palestinians in the fields of economic cooperation and youth.
In addition to the meeting with Alliot-Marie, AJC met with the President of the Senate, Gérard Larcher, the President and other members of the French-Israeli Friendship Group in the National Assembly, leaders of the Jewish community, the American ambassador to France, the Israeli ambassadors to France and UNESCO, and leaders of the French Union of Jewish Students.
Jason Isaacson, AJC Director of Government and International Affairs, led a panel discussion at Sciences Po, one of France’s most distinguished universities, on the subject of U.S. and European policies toward Iran.
« AJC recognized long ago that France, which is home to Europe’s largest Jewish community, is a key player on the international stage,” said Harris. “Indeed, we established a presence in France shortly after the war. Today, France remains critically important to our concerns in the Middle East and elsewhere, and President Sarkozy is to be applauded, in particular, for his unrelenting courage and leadership in combating the Iranian nuclear threat.”
In Belgium, AJC’s Brussels-based Transatlantic Institute (TAI), founded in 2004, organized the visit in Europe’s capital.
AJC met with the EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy, Stefan Füle, to discuss, among other matters, the EU’s relations with Israel, and the accession bids of Turkey and other candidate countries.
The delegation, including TAI Acting Chair Harold Tanner, also met with Members of the European Parliament in charge of links with Iran, Israel, and the United States, an array of ambassadors to the EU, leaders of Belgium’s Jewish community, and representatives of the Brussels-based European Union of Jewish Students, an AJC partner organization, and the Belgian Union of Jewish Students.
« The European Union is the most ambitious and successful peace project of the 20th century, » said Harris.
« AJC has long applauded the process of European integration. Further, as committed proponents of the transatlantic relationship, exemplified by our establishing the Transatlantic Institute six years ago, we came to Brussels to bolster and reaffirm this critically important alliance. It represents a vital and irreplaceable community of democratic values and common security concerns, » Harris said.