Harris to discuss ‘State of Jewish World’ at May 16 event
By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP
AJC Chief Executive Officer David Harris will be the keynote speaker when AJC Dallas hosts its annual meeting next week.
“We’re excited to have David Harris attend our meeting,” Joel Schwitzer, AJC regional director, said. “It’s a time of renewal and reflection for our organization. And the fact that David Harris is coming to deliver a keynote is significant because he hasn’t been here for a number of years, and it speaks to a recognition from our national board that it’s an exciting time for AJC in Dallas.”
The event will be held at the George W. Bush Presidential Center (943 SMU Boulevard, Dallas) on the campus at SMU. There will be a private reception for donors giving more than $1,250 at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, May 16, while registration for the public program is at 6:45 p.m.
Schwitzer said he expects the meeting to be packed, so attendees are encouraged to arrive early.
Harris will headline an event whose theme is “The State of the Jewish World.” Harris discussed that in an email interview with the Texas Jewish Post this week.
“There is no single answer to the current state of the Jewish world. In some respects, we have never been so fortunate, while at the same time, we face daunting challenges,” Harris wrote. “I see AJC’s role very much in the spirit of the classic story of Sherlock Holmes, the legendary English detective, who was summoned to a case that required an overnight stay en route.
“He and his trusty aide, Watson, pitched a tent in an open field, unfurled their sleeping bags, and closed their eyes. In the middle of the night, Holmes woke up, looked around, and elbowed Watson. ‘What do you see?’ Holmes asked him,” Harris continued. “Watson took a minute to rub his eyes and get his bearings, before looking upward: ‘I see the beauty of the universe and the infinite possibilities of life.’ Holmes listened to these words for a moment before replying: ‘Watson, you fool, someone has stolen our tent!’
“Bottom line: We must never stop seeing the incredible opportunities and precious gifts we’ve been given to live as Jews at this time, but, on the other hand, we can never forget that there are those trying to steal the Jewish tent.”
Harris’ comments come at an interesting time in Texas and the country. Just last week the State of Texas officially made it illegal for state funds to be used by companies that engage with the BDS movement, which looks to delegitimize the state of Israel.
“The pro-Israel, anti-BDS stance taken in Texas is hugely important and a powerful message of support for the all-important U.S.-Israel relationship,” Harris wrote. “It’s a total repudiation of those who seek to drive a wedge between two allied nations. At its heart, the BDS proponents are trying to undermine Israel’s very legitimacy. Democratic Israel, the only Jewish majority nation on earth, is the one country they target, while blithely ignoring true rogue nations and egregious violators of human rights. Bravo to Texas for saying a resounding ‘no’ to the haters and hypocrites!”
Schwitzer said the meeting will cover aspects of the evolution of that law, which AJC worked hard to help pass, as well as the growth of the AJC’s Jewish-Latino Alliance (JLA); several members of the JLA will be in attendance.
The meeting will also be an opportunity to look toward the future and discuss Jewish-Muslim relations in Texas.
“We are excited to be ramping up that work and improving those relationships in our local community,” Schwitzer said. “You look at where the relationship between the Catholic church and Jews has come in the past 50, 60, 70 years and AJC was very involved in repairing that relationship. That was the great interfaith quandary of the 20th century. For obvious reasons the Jewish-Muslim relationship is the great interfaith quandary of the 21st century and it’s more important than ever that we solve this.”
At the meeting, new board members will be installed and those who have served in the past will be honored.