By Francesca Matalon
“The American Jewish Committee Global Forum is an incredible opportunity to connect with Jewish leaders from all over the world,” said Talia Bidussa, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Students (UGEI), who attended the conference which was held in Washington, DC, on June 7-9, as part of a delegation of the European Union of Jewish Students.
“In a global world, people coping with different realities nonetheless share similar experiences, and those bridges are the base to build our Communities and an endless source of inspiration,” Bidussa told Pagine Ebraiche.
Inspiring concrete solutions and food for thought is the main purpose of the AJC Global Forum. The advocacy organization’s annual event brings together more than 2,000 participants from 70 countries around the world. The Global Forum traditionally hosts presidents, prime ministers, and foreign ministers; discussing the main issues for the future of international Jewry. Some issues such as the safeguard of Jewish citizens in the world and the defense of Israel’s right to exist. Among this year’s speakers, Israeli politician Yair Lapid, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ukraine Prime Minister Arsenij Jacenjuk, and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
During the Global Forum, AJC also presented its prestigious Moral Courage Award to Lassana Bathily, the French Muslim who saved lives during the terror attack against a kosher supermarket in Paris in January, and posthumously to Dan Uzan, a Jewish volunteer security guard murdered while protecting a Copenhagen synagogue in February; and to Zidan Seef, an Israeli Druze policeman killed in a terror attack at a Jerusalem synagogue last November.
“Attending the Forum made it clear to me that American Jews and Jewish institutions have a genuine interest towards European Jewish Communities, due to the fact that they have the perception of an extremely unstable situation,” Bidussa said. “The anti-Semitic attacks of the past months caused American Jews to worry,” she said during the sessions at the Forum; the topic of the possibility for Jews to keep living in Europe was discussed many times.
“It is reassuring to see that in face of terrible events, which too often make us feel isolated, we can count on the support of people who are geographically so far from us,” Bidussa stressed. “On the other hand though,” she added, “I also realize that it is too often ignored how alive and active European Jewish life is. The suggestions of moving to Israel or the United States was brought up too many times, as if Europe was not the place for us.”
This is the reason why Talia came back from Washington with a new concern. “It is definitely true that there are anti-Semitic attacks and feelings, which can’t be underestimated. It is also definitely true that often these problems are minimized, not recognized, or dealt with condescendence by our representatives; and this is not acceptable. The fact that it took the terror attacks in Paris to awaken a feeling of solidarity is almost absurd. On the other hand, activists and NGOs create campaigns, raise awareness and fight everyday to put an end to such prejudice and violence. At the time of the attacks, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls declared to the world that ‘France could not exist without French Jews’; and despite all this, the affection we experience towards our Communities and places which shaped our identity is undeniable, and cannot be thrown away that easily.”
“We are talking about how to reaffirm our right not to be afraid, our right to decide for ourselves,” Bidussa concludes.