The group of national Hispanic leaders from diverse professional spheres and backgrounds are focusing on issues that resonate strongly in the Latino historical and contemporary experience such as immigration and integration; the status of minorities, Diaspora-Homeland relations and inter-faith dialogue. Participants will tour the country with visits to the Hodayot Youth Village, an educational center for at-risk children, including immigrants, and Babcom Centers, a communications service provider staffed and managed by Arabs and Jews together, serving as a model for Jewish-Arab coexistence.
They are scheduled to visit the Golan Heights for strategic briefings, tour the Israeli Supreme Court for a discussion of civil rights with Justice Dalia Dorner and participate in a traditional Friday-night meal welcoming Shabbat.
"We are thrilled to welcome these Hispanic American national leaders to Israel and see this as an important step in strengthening ties between two communities that have a great deal in common,” said Sam Witkin, executive director of Project Interchange. The American Hispanic and Jewish communities both share a heritage of immigration and domestic interests that intersect on civil rights issues.
Delegation in visits Better Place (photo courtesy of Michele Ruiz and Project Interchange, an institute of AJC)
Project Interchange and AJC's Latino and Latin American Institute have been consistently co-hosting trips of national Latino leaders. In 2006 they convened top representatives from different national Hispanic agencies.
Upon their arrival home, the group issued A Latino-Jewish Statement of Joint Purpose in which its members called on both communities to strengthen ties, advocate on issues of common concern and increase their involvement in the Middle East and Latin America.
The group has continued to engage with the Institute's activities organizing programs geared towards exploring commonalities and expanding collaboration.
This was the AJC's seventh mission to Israel involving Latin American or Hispanic groups. Other groups have included Latin American journalists, Latin American government officials and Hispanic businessmen.
Since 1982, Project Interchange, an institute of AJC, has brought over 5,500 civic, religious, media, business, high tech and university leaders from more than 65 countries to Israel, bringing to life the concept that, when it comes to understanding Israel, there is no substitute for first-hand experience.
Founded in 1995, AJC's Latino and Latin American Institute works to establish coalitions with Latino communities in the United States; build bridges between the US, Latin America and Israel; promote democracy, human rights, and stability throughout the Hemisphere while expressing solidarity with Jewish communities in the region.
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