AJC's Executive Director David Harris, Israel's Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Haim Waxman, and the Director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University S. Ilan Troen discuss the future of Israel and answer your questions LIVE online.
David Harris is one of the Jewish people’s leading advocates and most eloquent spokesmen. The Executive Director of AJC since 1990, he travels the globe meeting with world leaders to advance the well-being of Israel, combat anti-Semitism, monitor the condition of Jewish communities, and promote intergroup and interreligious understanding.
Among the highlights of his work, he was centrally involved in the emigration of over one million Jews from the Soviet Union and was described by The Washington Post as “one of the leading spokesmen” for the Soviet Jewry movement. In the course of this work, he was twice detained by Soviet authorities and once expelled from the country. He was asked by the Jewish community to serve as the national coordinator for the historic Freedom Sunday for Soviet Jewry, the 1987 demonstration in Washington that drew over 250,000 participants.
Mr. Harris also played a behind-the-scenes role in the rescue of the Ethiopian Jewish community in the early 1980s, before the historic Operation Moses of 1984-1985.
Often described as one of the foremost American advocates for Israel’s political and diplomatic standing, Mr. Harris meets frequently with world leaders to discuss issues affecting the Middle East. In this regard, for example, his efforts were credited by the Japanese government for bringing about change in Tokyo’s position on its long-standing adherence to the Arab boycott against Israel and toward a more balanced approach to the larger Arab-Israeli conflict.
As one of his many achievements at AJC, he was a key figure in the successful sixteen-year struggle to repeal the infamous “Zionism is racism” resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1975, only the second time in UN history a resolution was actually repealed. And he spearheaded AJC’s successful campaign to correct Israel’s anomalous status at the UN, where it had been the only nation ineligible to sit on the Security Council, and to include it in one of the UN's five regional groups that determine the all-important committee assignments.
As a leading Jewish advocate, he has been invited to speak at some of the world’s most prestigious forums. He was the first head of an American Jewish organization to address the World Economic Forum in Davos, at a session chaired by Tony Blair. In addition, he has testified before the United States Congress on several occasions on matters related to the Middle East, NATO enlargement, Russian and Soviet affairs, and anti-Semitism, as well as before the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the French Parliament.
Mr. Harris has been honored more than ten times by the governments of Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Spain, and Ukraine for his many international activities on behalf of the defense of human rights, advancement of the transatlantic partnership, and dedication to the Jewish people. In 2003, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Hebrew Union College.
Prior to joining AJC, Mr. Harris graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania. He pursued his graduate studies in international relations at the London School of Economics and then spent a year as a Junior Associate at Oxford University (St. Antony’s College). He was a Visiting Scholar at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (2000-2002) and a Senior Associate at St. Antony’s College (2009-2011). He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Mr. Harris is the author of seven books – The Jewish World, Entering a New Culture, and five volumes of In the Trenches – and co-author of an eighth, The Jokes of Oppression. He has written hundreds of articles, op-eds, letters, and reviews in leading newspapers and magazines. Since 2001, he has had a regular spot on the CBS Radio Network, reaching 30-35 million listeners. He also has a popular blog on international affairs at The Huffington Post and The Jerusalem Post and is a monthly contributor to the Spanish daily El País.
S. Ilan Troen
S. Ilan Troen is the Stoll Family Professor in Israel Studies at Brandeis University and Director of the newly established Schusterman Center for Israel Studies. He has served as Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at Ben-Gurion University in Israel and as Director of the Ben-Gurion Research Institute and Archives in Sede Boker.
He has authored or edited eleven books in American, Jewish and Israeli history. He is also the founding editor of Israel Studies (Indiana University Press), the leading journal in this new field. His most recent books include Jewish Centers and Peripheries: European Jewry between America and Israel Fifty Years after World War II (Transaction, 1998); The Americanization of Israel (Indiana, 2001) with Glenda Abramson; Divergent Jewish Cultures: Israel and America (Yale, 2001) with Deborah Dash-Moore; Imagining Zion: Dreams, Designs and Realities in a Century of Jewish Settlement (Yale, 2003), and, with Jacob Lassner, Jews and Muslims in the Arab World: Haunted by Pasts Real and Imagined (Rowman and Littlefield, 2007)
He has lectured widely, including at Tufts, Brandeis, Brown, Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Pennsylvania, Hebrew Union College (Cincinnati), Notre Dame, Northwestern, Chicago, Lake Forest, Michigan State, Indiana, Missouri, Wisconsin, Virginia Commonwealth, Emory, Florida Atlantic, Tulane, Texas, and UCLA in the U.S.; Torino, Thessaloniki, OsnabrÃ¼ck, Duisburg, Amsterdam and Oxford in Europe; Witswatersrand, Pretoria and Cape Town in South Africa; Sydney and Canberra in Australia; Hong Kong, Peking and Renmin (Beijing) in China; Bilkent and Koc in Turkey.
He has also been scholar-in-residence at such communal settings as the Bnai Brith Scholar in Seattle, numerous congregations such as the Hillcrest Community Center in New York,the Hampstead Synagogue on Long Island, Mishkan Tefillah in Boston, Solellim in Chicago as well as for the GA and federations.
Ilan Troen was born in Boston, educated at the Latin School, Hebrew College and Brandeis before taking his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. He was at Missouri and Princeton before making aliyah in 1975.
Ambassador Haim Waxman has served as Israel's Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations since August 16, 2010.
Ambassador Waxman is a career diplomat. Prior to his current posting, he served as the Director of the Department for Non-Proliferation in the Strategic Affairs Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He also served as interim Acting Deputy Director-General for Strategic Affairs.
While heading the Department for Defence Export Controls in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs between 2005 and 2007, Ambassador Waxman was closely involved in the reform of the national system of export controls and legislation. During this period, he was a member of the United Nations Group of Experts on Illicit Brokering in Small Arms and Light Weapons.
Ambassador Waxman served as Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations office in Geneva from 1999 until 2004 where he represented Israel in various organizations and programs including the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the World Health Organisation (WHO) the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), and various environmental organizations.
From 1992 to 1996, Ambassador Waxman served as Consul and Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Consulate General in Toronto, Canada, where he oversaw public relations, community relations as well as consular work and administration.
Ambassador Waxman also held other positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including in the African Division (2004), and the Middle East Economic Department (1998-1999).
Ambassador Waxman holds a Bachelor degree in Russian and General Studies from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (1990) and a Masters degree in Public Policy from the University of Tel-Aviv (2005).