US Jewish leaders converge on capital

Five-day mission to focus on dangers to Jewish people around the world.

hoenlein 248.88 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
hoenlein 248.88 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The annual Israel Leadership Mission of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations got under way Tuesday as some 115 members and guests of the organization landed in Israel for a five-day trip that will focus on the dangers to the Jewish people around the world. The trip will focus on "policy implications and practical solutions" to problems facing the Jewish world today, Conference Executive Vice President Malcolm Hoenlein told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. The issues on the group's agenda include the Iranian nuclear program, the growing anti-Israel activism on college campuses in the US and elsewhere, anti-Semitism worldwide, Israel and the media, and Jewish demographics. "This is a momentous time for the Jewish people, a watershed period," Hoenlein said. "the war on terrorism will define the 21st century for Jews." Citing the fact that "in Britain, a Jew is four times more likely to be the victim of a hate crime than a Muslim, while in the US it's seven times," Hoenlein said he believed there was "no division between Israel and the Diaspora on these issues" of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel activism. During the mission, the largest since the annual trip was begun 33 years ago, participants will meet with senior political figures, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, opposition leader MK Binyamin Netanyahu, Vice Premier Shimon Peres and Acting President Dalia Itzik. They will hold discussions with experts and officials including the head of Military Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, US Ambassador Richard Jones, Canadian MP Irwin Cotler, Princeton Prof. Bernard Lewis and the former IDF chief of General Staff, Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon. The trip will also include a closed-door tour of Israel's security establishment, including a visit to view new technologies being developed at Israel Military Industries, a visit to the Palmachim Air Force Base, a briefing at the National Defense College and a meeting with OC Gaza Division Brig.-Gen. Moshe Tamir. "It is an overwhelming agenda," admitted Hoenlein of the diverse issues the mission will be studying, but he believed that as a first step to action, "the community has to decide what it focuses on."