As NJ AJC Diplomatic Outreach Team Leader for India, I was honored to be present at this rally along with an audience of 20,000 Indian Americans. MC’s for evening were PBS Anchor Hari Sreenivasan and Miss America Nina Davuluri both proud Indian/Americans. More than 2 dozens Congressmen and Senators including New Jersey Senators Menedez and Booker were introduced and waited on stage for introduction of the PM. The US and Indian national Anthems were sung. The Indian/American excitement and pride was manifest in the emotional response audience gave to the new PM periodically calling “Modi, Modi, Modi” throughout the evening. Modi spoke about demographic bulge of 1.25 billion people, 65% under 35 and how their energy will propel India to be the leader in the Pacific Rim for the 21st Century. He promised to relieve notorious “red tape” and “obsolete” laws holding India back. He is planning to clean up polluted Ganges and to provide modern toilets for all.
He pointed out that India successfully launched a Mars satellite on first try and that the cost of it was less than producing a special-effects, Hollywood Blockbuster.
He humorously pointed out that many countries in the past belittled India as "snake charmers" but now India is proudly known for their handling of a "mouse" (alluding to their hi tech skills).
Jeff Boyarsky another AJC lay leader in attendance found himself sitting 75 feet from the stage, alongside a group of executives from Sun Pharmaceutical, Inc. Sun as it turns out, though headquartered in India, not only has a Cranbury, NJ location, but it also has a pharmaceutical division in Israel (Tara Pharmaceutical). Boyarsky participates in AJC Central New Jersey’s new partnership effort the Hindu-Jewish Coalition and shared with me, the “awe of possibilities” the event presented especially in relation to the potential, tri-lateral relations between India, Israel and the
On Monday, September 22, I joined over 100 AJC leaders, among them 20 from NJ, at a powerful presentation about the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. This meeting was the launch of this year’s AJC Diplomatic Marathon, in which AJC holds more than 70 high-level meetings with world leaders and diplomats while the UN General Assembly is in session in New York. Our leadership works around the clock, meeting with presidents, prime ministers, and foreign ministers, taking time to hear their concerns, and ensuring that they heard ours.
Among the speakers at the kick-off meeting were the foreign minister of Greece, Senator Ben Cardin and a panel of AJC European experts, who highlighted the personal nature of the threats that they are dealing with. Simone Rodan, head of AJC’s Paris office, and Daniel Schwammenthal, head of AJC’s Transatlantic Institute in Brussels, spoke about the decisions that they are making as European Jews whether to send their children to Jewish school and whether to stay in Europe at all. They said that many of the European governments have spoken out against anti-Semitism, but they need to do more and their words need to be backed up by actions.
During the meeting David Harris noted, most people of good will want to do the right thing, but lack clarity about the issue, and are unaware of the best steps to take. I was particularly moved by this comment because of a recent email I received from my French cousin who lives in Paris.
She shared with me that:
“It really feels good to know we are not alone. I think our perspectives are very different. You have a lot more information. For us, it’s kind of difficult to follow the news, because it is too stressful. So we try to live and work as before, and yet when it is a big problem, sometimes we feel we should maybe think of searching for another home.
The feeling of being a community is stronger now (before we didn’t really care). If I didn’t listen to the radio Shalom, and I stuck only to French news, I would know nothing. There are open actions, but not in our neighborhood.
However, it is impossible not to feel a silent reprobation. It is like we are responsible for all the Israeli politics. I heard for example, “It’s been 60 years. Israel is THE problem. Let’s get rid of it.” So whenever the subject goes on the table, if you are not with Jews, but just some French friends or work relationship, you need to be very careful, because all of a sudden, you understand they are not anymore on your side… and that is something new. You are not anymore just a friend or a colleague. They make you feel like you are responsible not only for the Palestinian problem but for the Islamic terrorism. It is usually not said aloud but suggested, and usually you prefer to get quickly to another subject. My daughters don’t want to stay here. They are fed up with the atmosphere. It is difficult to describe the whole situation because it is not sharp.”
This letter corroborated much of what I heard in on-the-ground reports from our AJC European Directors. Understandably, I left the meeting concerned but also convinced that AJC—relentless in reaching out to top leaders in politics, religion, and the media; strongly reframing the issue; making perfectly clear that the implications go far beyond the well-being of the Jews—is the only American Jewish organization that has the global architecture, respect, and expertise to combat this growing scourge of anti-Semitism.
Greek Consul General, Georgios Iliopoulos with AJC Metro New Jersey President, Genesia Perlmutter Kamen and Chair AJC Board of Trustees, John Shapiro