More than five dozen diplomats representing foreign consulates from across Texas participated in the 2023 Mayor’s Consular Summit Feb. 6-7. This initiative was led by the World Affairs Council of DFW with American Jewish Committee (AJC) playing a critical role in crafting the agenda, inviting speakers and hosting the closing breakfast and program at the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum. The attendance list included representation from Asia, Europe, North and South America.
The evening prior to the summit, Harriet Whiting, AJC president, hosted a dinner in her home with Consul General Vitalii Tarasiuk of Ukraine. “Thank you to longtime partners AJC for the opportunity to deliver a briefing on the situation in Ukraine, Russian war crimes and ways to support the people of Ukraine in the fight for freedom and independence,” said Tarasiuk.
Joel Schwitzer, AJC regional director, explained that “AJC, more than any other Jewish organization, has been engaged with Ukraine for many years. As far back as 1991, AJC urged President George H.W. Bush to recognize Ukraine, condemned the 2014 invasion of Crimea and raised nearly $2.5 million for Ukrainian refugees and humanitarian aid during the current acts of Russian aggression.” President Vlodymyr Zelensky addressed AJC leaders via video at the 2022 Global Forum expressing appreciation for past advocacy and urging continued efforts.
The summit proper began with an opening breakfast at Hall Arts. Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson welcomed the diplomats, who also heard remarks from former Kay Bailey Hutchison, former NATO ambassador, and Francisco de la Torre Galindo, dean of the Consular Corps of Dallas. A robust schedule ensued, and included briefings from the Dallas Regional Chamber and Visit Dallas; a conversation about the Dallas International District with Jaynie Schultz, Dallas City Council member; and a reception at the George W. Bush Presidential Center with remarks by Ken Hersh, its president and CEO, as well as Jeanne Phillips, former ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation.
The following morning, diplomats arrived at the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum. Ray Termini, AJC Dallas vice president of International Affairs, moderated a panel discussion of the directors of three of the AJC international offices: Ambassador Marc Sievers (AJC Abu Dhabi: The Sidney J. Lerner Center for Arab-Jewish Understanding), Dr. Sebastian Rejak (Shapiro Silverberg Central Europe Office in Warsaw) and Daniel Schwammenthal (AJC Transatlantic Institute in Brussels). Each provided background on their work combating antisemitism, enhancing relationships with Israel and advancing global Jewish advocacy efforts in the countries in their portfolios.
Following an exploration of AJC’s global architecture, docents led the diplomats on tours of the permanent exhibit. Charles Foster, honorary consul representing Thailand, noted, “I was immediately engrossed in every aspect of the museum. We all know something of the horrors of the Holocaust, but the museum leads you through how it happened step by step.”
AJC is the leading global advocacy organization with thirteen overseas posts, twenty-five regional offices and thirty-seven partnerships with Jewish communities around the world. Local efforts to engage diplomats range from large programs like this, to diplomatic advocacy meetings with consuls general and visiting ambassadors, to partnership on programs that advance AJC advocacy priorities. For more information on AJC, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.