Leaders of prominent religious, ethnic and civil rights groups from the United States
have travelled to Israel
for a one-week seminar on human rights and civil liberties.
The Project Interchange
seminar, sponsored by the American Jewish Committee, was meant to introduce the officials to Israeli culture and society and to expose them to the complex reality of life in the Jewish state and the Middle East.
As part of the project, the delegates met with Israeli, Arab and Palestinian community leaders and civil rights experts. The seminar focused on combating prejudice and racial stereotyping, protecting religious liberty, promoting LGBT
equality, promoting fair treatment of immigrants, as well as international human rights, among other issues.
Delegates travelled across country (Photo: Project Interchange)
Participants also visited a number of projects and organizations that focus on co-existence and interfaith relations, and toured various historic sites across the country.
"PI developed an itinerary that not only allowed me to learn bought Israel, but also challenged my assumptions," said Ali Noorani, executive director if the National Immigration Forum. "There were multiple opportunities to engage a range of perspectives. I come away understanding the challenges and opportunities of Israel's past, present and future."
The delegation also included representatives of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Leadership Conference Education Fund, the American Association of People with Disabilities, the Hindu American Foundation, the Interfaith Alliance and the Japanese American Citizens League.
Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of Interfaith Alliance said the trip "has confronted me with one paradox after another--sacred and secular, joy and sadness, technology and mystery, past and future, information and questions. The meaning of the land and the dialogue with my colleagues encourages making peace with the paradoxes rather than distorting reality by trying to tear them apart to achieve simplicity. Great experience!"
Priscilla Ouchida, executive director of the Japanese American Citizens League stated, "I've experienced multiple ‘Ah-Ha!’ moments. The program transformed my prior assumptions into an understanding of Israel and its policies in the Middle East."