AJC Executive Director Addresses German Israel Congress

Nov 10, 2013, 11:36 ET from American Jewish Committee

BERLIN, Nov. 10, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --  AJC Executive Director David Harris addressed the opening ceremony of the Deutscher Israel Kongress (German Israel Congress) in Berlin today.

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"I stand before you as the son of a father who grew up in Berlin. We come here to mourn the past, but also to affirm the future with optimism and conviction," Harris told the audience of 1,500, including Israeli dignitaries, Members of the German Parliament, government officials, diplomats, and leaders and friends of the German Jewish community.

The theme of the conference is "Connecting for Tomorrow," with the aim of strengthening German-Israeli relations and understanding on the political, cultural, scientific, and business levels. It is the third German Israel Congress ever held, and this year takes place on the 75th anniversary of Reichspogromnacht (Kristallnacht).

"Against the backdrop of Kristallnacht, I look at what has been achieved since, most significantly, the rebirth of the State of Israel, which is the result of the age-old link among a people, a land, and a faith," said Harris.

"I'm an optimist because today the German flag stands for democracy, European integration, a growing Jewish community, NATO membership, and a relationship with Israel that is part of the Federal Republic's Staatsrason (reason for being)," Harris continued. "In partnership, Germany and Israel can do amazing things in the world; not just bilaterally, but broadly in food security, water security, cyber security, public health security, environmental security, knowledge security, etc."

Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations, addressed a separate session at the Kongress on the subject of interreligious dialogue in the context of German-Israeli relations.

AJC was the first American Jewish organization to open an office in Berlin, which is led today by Deidre Berger.

SOURCE American Jewish Committee