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Project Interchange

Since 1982, AJC Project Interchange has brought approximately 6,000 of the world’s most influential voices to Israel from more than 100 countries and all 50 U.S. states.

Through its week-long seminars, Project Interchange exposes diverse leaders of today and tomorrow to the complex issues facing Israeli society.

An educational institute of AJC, Project Interchange relies on donors who support its unique purpose and the measurable results its programs yield.

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Upcoming Seminars

U.S. Mayors - September 2017

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Media Coverage

The Jerusalem Post: US Mayors Bond with Israel

NY Jewish Life, OpEd by Syracuse (NY) Mayor Stephanie Miner: A Belief in Delivering the Promised Land

Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel: What Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero Learned in Israel

Knoxville Mayor’s Overseas Trip Teaches Strong Lessons; Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero went overseas to Israel with a group of mayors from across the country

Technion and Cornell University Open Joint Campus in New York

We are immensely proud to have introduced Cornell’s president to Technion’s in 2010 on the AJC Project Interchange University Presidents seminar. The new joint campus brings together the mastery of Technion, which is synonymous with the “start-up nation,” and Cornell’s long-standing expertise in engineering and computer science. The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Cornell University inaugurated their joint campus on New York City’s Roosevelt Island Sept. 14 as part of their academic partnership, which began six years ago. In 2011, the collaboration was named the winner of then-mayor Mike Bloomberg’s visionary applied sciences competition, the goal of which was diversifying the economy and creating a national hub for tech. The brainchild of this initiative was the Technion-Cornell Institute, a cornerstone of Cornell Tech, which is a graduate school of Cornell University. Read more here.

Alumni Response: Prime Minister Modi Visits Israel

In early July, Indian Prime Minister Nardendra Modi made an historic first visit to Israel. AJC Project Interchange alumni in the U.S. and India played a role in the visit and are contributing to its ongoing coverage and analysis. Read more.

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Alumni in the News


AJC Project Interchange participant Palki Sharma wrote the following reflection of her experience in Israel:

There is an Israel beyond the gunfire

Carrot juice and gunfire

Israel is a country that stuns you with its beauty and incongruity. And that’s an understatement. Our chopper (called BDS, not weird at all!) landed on Mount Bental in the Golan Heights. It’s a dormant volcano where lava seeps from the base and not the top of the mountain, leaving the soil around it rich with minerals. There are lush vineyards as far as the eye can see. The Instagram happy lot had just turned on their selfie cameras when we were beckoned to the other side.

There was a UN convoy practicing a drill. The young Irish officers refused to talk. But a few minutes down the road we met more soldiers, men, and women, resting with their backpacks and machine guns, lying under olive trees, posing for cameras. War, perhaps, is just a state of mind for some.

We were headed to cafe Kofi Annan, packed with tourists and students. Kofi Annan in Hebrew sounds like ‘coffee on the clouds’. Apt. around tables laden with salads, coffee, carrot juice, pizzas and oranges, animated conversation ebbed and flowed. It was like any other cafe, except that you heard booming sounds intermittently.

It’s the ISIS fighting, said our guide. He passed on a pair of binoculars. In the distance, you could see the Syrian border. This is the only place in the world or one of the only since I don’t know better, where you can see the full theatre of war, live and unedited, perched on barstools.

After a while, the sounds ceased. It’s lunch break for the fighters, we were told. Of course. Ideology gives only so much sustenance.

The scene reminded me of Tom Friedman’s description of the Lebanese war in the 80s. An American friend of his was invited for dinner on Christmas Eve. Amid artillery salvos and machine gun fire that shook the neighborhood, the hostess put off serving dinner hoping that things would calm down. After a while, she asked, “Would you like to eat now or wait for the cease-fire?” I thought it was a bit exaggerated. Not anymore. It’s a coping mechanism.

For a country that has lived under the constant shadow of war when it’s not fighting one, this perhaps is the only way to survive and thrive. The Israelis have turned it into a fine art, complete with blooming hydrangeas in the kitchen garden and lace doilies on the window sill.

More power to Merav!

We were led into a fine dining restaurant with sparkling wine goblets and oversized lampshades. We were to meet a member of Knesset from the ruling coalition. Merav Ben Ari was to brief us on policy and politics. She walked in pushing a pram. Her three-month-old daughter gurgled greetings as the mother shook hands with us. She’s the first lawmaker in Israel to have conceived a baby with a gay friend and opted for shared parenting out of wedlock. At the risk of soundly too credulous and callow, I have to say I cannot imagine a politician in India, much less a woman, doing this and being cheered for it.

She discussed the corruption allegations against Prime Minister Netanyahu while burping her baby and forking her ravioli. The picture was almost inspirational - a working mother, unapologetic about tending to her baby while meeting a delegation, not expected to prove her dedication to her profession while balancing it with ‘life’. Envy.

All the exhortations about leaning in and claiming your space seemed fraudulent. It’s not really a choice for most women where I come from. It’s an offer with pre-conditions foisted on them. Most struggle to convince their bosses that they are committed professionals and to their children that they are committed mothers while living in the constant guilt that they might end up being neither.

Ben Ari gave me hope. But unfortunately, I did not follow much of what she said. My contemplative mood coupled with an overdose of cheesecakes that had me looking forward to a nap on the bus to our next destination.

Palki Sharma traveled to Israel for the AJC’s Project Interchange 2017.

PI Alumna Honored by AJC Berlin Ramer Institute for German-Jewish Relations

AJC Project Interchange alumna Düzen Tekkal received the AJC Berlin Ramer Award for Courage in the Defense of Democracy. She was honored “for her passion to protect democracy and human rights through her unremitting efforts to document the horrors of the ISIS genocide against the Yazidi people.”

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