August 2012 Newsletter

Dear Project Interchange Alumni,

We’re celebrating a milestone! We have now reached our 1,000th international participant on a Project Interchange seminar! For its first 24 years, Project Interchange focused solely on delegations of opinion leaders from the United States; beginning in 2006, PI expanded to include leaders from around the world.

In just a few years, Project Interchange has developed tailor-made educational seminars for leaders from over 72 countries. Over the past few weeks, PI has hosted delegations of U.S.-based Diplomats,American Civil and Human Rights Leaders, and Chilean Officials and Journalists in Israel. While vastly different in their backgrounds, each delegation has returned from their Project Interchange visits to Israel with deeper understanding of Israel, its challenges, and accomplishments.

Read on for more - - and feel free to share this email.

Sam Witkin
Executive Director

PI’s 1,000th International Seminar Participant

Meet Gisela PadovanMinister Counselor at the Embassy of Brazil in Washington, DC, PI’s 1,000th international seminar participant. After participating in the Diplomatic Leadership Seminar in July, Gisela commented:  “I think the seminar provided us with a broad perspective of issues related to Israel which will help me have a more balanced approach on the subject.”

“I would like, first of all, to thank you, and through you, Project Interchange and the AJC for allowing me to participate in one of the most enriching experiences of my diplomatic life. Last week was indeed phenomenal in the way it allowed us to immerse in Israel’s reality - progresses and challenges - in a very concrete way… the intensity and variety of the activities proposed, the quality of interlocutors, the comprehensiveness of the agenda, all this composed what I consider an outstanding program!”

Diplomatic Leaders Seminar Wrap Up

A Diplomatic Leadership Seminar of US-based high-ranking diplomats representing Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Colombia, Greece, Romania, and Spain visited Israel with Project Interchange July 22-27.

Throughout the seminar, the delegation interacted with a diverse range of Israeli, Arab Israeli, and Palestinian experts on society and politics. Government officials and academic experts provided the group with an overview of Israel’s strategic environment, the peace process, the Iranian nuclear threat, and Israel’s rule of law. Visits in Ramallah with the Palestinian Prime Minister and Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki, as well as meetings with Palestinian human rights activists provided participants with a range of perspectives.

Civil Rights Leaders Seminar Wrap Up

A delegation of prominent American civil and human rights and civil liberties leaders just concluded an important PI seminar in Israel. The tailor-made seminar included meetings with notable Israeli experts, and provided the American leaders a fertile platform for discussion and exchange of ideas across religious, geographic and political lines.

Seminar topics included combating prejudice and racial stereotyping, protecting religious liberty, promoting LGBT equality, promoting fair treatment of immigrants, and supporting civil rights and civil liberties for all people including people with disabilities, as well as international human rights. The trip included meetings with influential figures, including senior Israeli, Palestinian, and Israeli-Arab leaders. Participants also visited a number of projects and organizations that focus on co-existence and interfaith organizations.

Upon his return, Seminar Chair, Wade HendersonPresident, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said, “On behalf of the entire delegation, I want you to know how much we all appreciated the opportunity not just to visit Israel, but to visit Israel as a delegate of Project Interchange. Thank you for facilitating a transformative and eye-opening experience.”

Media coverage:
Times of Israel

Here are the thoughtful blogs of Priscilla Ouchida and Mark Perriello, two participants who chronicled their experiences while in Israel.

Statement of Solidarity with Sikh Community After Wisconsin Tragedy

Jasjit Singh, Executive Director, Sikh American Legal Defense Education Fund, was scheduled to participate in PI’s seminar for civil rights leaders. Unfortunately, the day prior to the delegation’s departure, a murderous attack took place on a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin. Read AJC’s immediate statement of solidarity with the Sikh community.

Upcoming Seminars

Project Interchange has much more in store in the coming months.German Opinion and Policy LeadersU.S. Counterterrorism ExpertsEuropean Union Leaders and American State Elected Officials are all upcoming PI seminars. Look for timely updates on the our website or Facebook. And if you “like” us, LIKE US on Facebook!