The International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians is being relaunched by the World Jewish Congress to combat “unrelenting waves of global antisemitism and attacks on democratic values,” the WJC said in a press release.
US Senator Jacky Rosen (D-Nevada) will lead the forum. WJC president Ronald S. Lauder had asked her to assume the role.
The ICJP was formally established in 2002 by the WJC as a broadening of a series of biannual meetings of Jewish legislators and parliamentarians held in Jerusalem, which started in 1988.
In 2016, the organization transitioned to a more region-specific focus. But the WJC has now decided that the global rise in antisemitism, as well as what it describes as antidemocratic trends in different parts of the world, demonstrated a need for a renewed global perspective.
“There is a newfound motivation for international cooperation as antisemitism and antidemocratic movements sadly and very seriously continues to flourish,” said David Meluskey, the WJC’s political-affairs director.
“Parliamentarians are looking to learn from each other and share best practices to find solutions that work within and across borders,” he said.
The council was scheduled to convene its first plenary meeting in Washington, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting will take place on May 12 by video conference. The WJC Plenary Assembly begins on May 21.
The relaunched forum plans to convene three times a year, twice virtually and once in person when it is safe to have in-person gatherings, Meluskey said.
In-person meetings will be held in Washington, Jerusalem and another major global city on a three-year rotation basis, he said.
“It is an honor to be named as global chair of the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians at this critical time for Jewish Americans and for Jews all over the world,” Rosen said following the announcement of ICJP’s relaunch.
“In this role I will work to combat the evils of antisemitism, racism, bigotry and xenophobia,” he said. “I look forward to working alongside Ambassador Lauder and Jewish parliamentarians from around the world in our shared mission to promote tolerance and fight back against hate.”
The ICJP had for decades brought together national Jewish legislators, government ministers and other elected officials from dozens of countries to tackle urgent issues, and the body was again needed to address new concerns, Lauder said.
“As we now witness an era of unfettered conspiracy myths, pervasive antisemitism and xenophobia, a horribly disturbing recurrence of Holocaust denial and rising authoritarianism, the ICJP has a powerful role to play in serving as an incubator and accelerator of best practices to counter these phenomena,” he said.
“As founding co-chair of the Senate Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism and a former synagogue president, she [Rosen] uniquely understands the concerns of Jewish communities and Jewish parliamentarians,” Lauder said. “Senator Rosen is the right person at the right time to chair this important forum.”