Highlights from Sebastian Kurz's Keynote Speech on EU-Israel Relations and Jewish Life in Europe
Backed by the city of Hamburg through an official state cooperation agreement since 2012, the Islamic Center Hamburg (IZH) is Iran’s direct affiliate in Germany. According to German intelligence, the IZH is Tehran's most important hub in Europe. "The Islamic Center Hamburg is not only tasked with spreading Iran's antisemitic, anti-democratic, misogynistic, and homophobic state ideology, but serves as a hub for Hamburg’s Hezbollah supporters," writes AJC Berlin Director Remko Leemhuis in this Welt opinion article calling on the city state to ban the IZH and its activities.
Both the U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords and the bipartisan Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act - signed into law earlier this year – have the potential to advance the economic conditions needed to provide a foundation for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Benjamin Rogers, AJC Director for Middle East and North Africa Initiatives, writes in this op-ed in The Hill that the $250 million allocated by Congress over five years to expand peace and reconciliation programs and bolster the Palestinian economy through private sector engagement could be transformational: “While each instrument is revolutionary, the full power of the Abraham Accords and the Lowey Fund will emerge when applied together, unleashing their potential as a catalyst for the future of an integrated, symbiotic Middle East.”
As modern Greece marked its bicentennial this month, celebrating the nation’s emergence from 400 years of rule under the Ottoman Empire, the recent discovery of natural gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean continues to energize the Israel-Greece-Cyprus trilateral relationship. Backed by the U.S., the region is fast transforming into a real political and economic hub. For the first time, a major source of natural gas in the region is controlled largely by Western democracies. AJC Senior Director of Policy and Political Affairs, Julie Fishman Rayman, writes in the Greek daily Kathimerini that Greece and Cyprus, the U.S., and the entire region have much to gain from deepening this strategic partnership.
Over 70 legislators, diplomats, and officials from Europe, North America, and Israel gathered for an exclusive online discussion on the burgeoning NATO-Israel ties co-organized by the Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI) and the Mission of Israel to the EU and NATO. Co-hosted by TFI members MP Attila Mesterházy, NATO Parliamentary Assembly Vice President, and Canadian MP James Bezan, Vice Chair of the House of Commons National Defence Standing Committee, the panel discussion featured H.E. Aharon Leshno-Yaar, Ambassador of Israel to the EU and NATO, Colonel Nir Omer, Military Representative to NATO and to the EU, former NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges Dr. Jamie Shea, and AJC Jerusalem Director Lt Col (res.) Avital Leibovich as moderator.
Resuming contacts with Iran has become an early foreign policy priority for the Biden administration and Europe. AJC CEO David Harris offers in his latest piece in The Times of Israel six recommendations for any future negotiations with Tehran. Since last year’s Abraham Accords the Middle East has undergone a fundamental shift. Consulting closely with America’s Sunni allies and Israel, President Biden can now rectify the JCPOA’s shortcomings on regional aggression, ballistic missiles, inspections, and the accord’s dangerous sunset clauses, which give the regime a patient pathway to nuclear threshold capability.
The U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords achieved even more than the historic establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and three Arab nations. Jason Isaacson, AJC’s Chief Policy and Political Affairs Officer, argues in Newsweek that the agreement’s critical ‘side deals’ ought to be honored. Both the $23 billion sale of F-35 warplanes to Abu Dhabi and U.S. recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara – with Sahrawi autonomy – will bolster ties with and among these critical allies to promote regional stability, counter extremist forces and address human needs.
Twelve prominent Polish community leaders launched the AJC-inspired “Community of Conscience – A Coalition of Mutual Respect,” an interfaith group that aims to fight discrimination against religious, ethnic, and cultural minorities. At the virtual launch ceremony, AJC Central Europe Acting Director Sebastian Rejak, who last year initiated the process to establish the group, said: “Truth and righteousness are like a symphony: many voices, many experiences together form a new whole – a harmony that we hope will transform people’s minds and hearts.”
Over 40 legislators, diplomats, and officials from Europe, North America, and Israel gathered for an exclusive Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI) online discussion on the Biden administration’s policy on Iran. Speakers included Rep. Ted Deutch, Chair of the US House Subcommittee on Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism, MEPs Anna Fotyga and TFI Chair Lukas Mandl, both members of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, and Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Israel is the world’s front-runner on COVID vaccine distribution. It didn’t take long for libelous accusations to surface that the Jewish state deliberately neglected the Palestinians even though the Oslo Accords gave the Palestinian Authority sole responsibility for health care and Ramallah never asked for Israeli help. In this Times of Israel opinion piece, AJC CEO David Harris takes on the journalists, members of Congress, and activists who are propagating falsehoods about Israel and sets the record straight about the Palestinian vaccination program.
The AJC Transatlantic Institute partnered with the Mission of Israel to the EU and NATO and the European office of the Konrad Adenaeur Stiftung (KAS) on an online ceremony to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Marking 76 years since the liberation of Auschwitz, European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas delivered a powerful address, underscoring the need for Europe to not only remember the horrors of the Shoah but also address all forms of antisemitism. Concluding the moving speech, the Vice President lit a personal memorial candle with the name of one of the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust.