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The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (CoP; often referred to as the Presidents' Conference) is a non-profit organization that describes itself as "a central address for key American, Israeli and other world leaders to consult on issues of critical concern to the Jewish community."

Currently comprising 51 national Jewish organizations, the Conference meets relatively infrequently to make major statements or meet with important leaders. The Conference was founded to promote the State of Israelmarker in the United Statesmarker and that remains its primary task. The Conference does not draft comprehensive policies (as done by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs), nor does it do conventional lobbying (as done by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee).

History

The Conference was created in 1956 in response to requests from President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his administration. The American Jewish community of the period was experiencing a large growth in its similar policy groups (such as the American Jewish Committee and American Jewish Congress) and the increasing influence of the Jewish denominations on politics (particularly from Orthodox and Conservative Jews). The Eisenhower administration wanted an easier method to gauge the opinion of the community, without having to wade into the internal politics of the community, and polling leaders of each organization. The Conference established a unified voice for the community, one that government officials could consult on important matters.

For its first 30 years the Conference was led by one man, Yehuda Hellman. After his death in 1986, Malcolm Hoenlein became Chairman. Hoenlein took a much stronger role in shaping U.S. policy, especially through the executive branch.

All of the members of the Conference sit on AIPAC's Executive Committee.

The Conference's chairperson is Alan Solow. The Executive Vice Chairman is Malcolm I. Hoenlein.

Activities

The Conference's website states that it engages in "consensus policy, collective action, and maximizing the resources of the American Jewish community," in particular, "when events in the U.S., Israel and elsewhere affect the American Jewish community."

The stated goals of the Conference include:
  • Strengthening and fostering the special U.S.-Israel relationship.
  • Ensuring that Israel's interests are heard and understood by policy makers, opinion molders and the American public.
  • Addressing critical foreign policy issues that impact the American Jewish community.
  • Representing the interests of organized American Jewry.
  • Protecting and enhancing the security and dignity of Jews around the world.


International Leadership Award

In December 2008, the Conference presented Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and his government as a whole, with its inaugural "International Leadership Award" for his support for Israelmarker. Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice-chairman of the conference, stated that the award was given to express the group's appreciation for Canadamarker's "courageous stands" to boycott the Durban II anti-racism conference. He also praised Canada's "support for Israel and [its] efforts at the U.N. against incitement and ... the delegitimization [of Israel], where they have taken a role in the forefront."

Support for Jonathan Pollard

In December 2008, the Conference asked President George W. Bush to pardon Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. navy analyst who was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for spying for Israelmarker. Malcolm Hoenlein stated that Pollard should be pardoned on humanitarian grounds, adding that "It's time that he be released. He has expressed remorse."

Meeting with Pope Benedict XVI

On February 12 2009, the Conference's leaders met with Pope Benedict XVI in order to re-assert the importance of Jewish-Catholic relations in the wake of the controversy over negationist comments made by Society of St. Pius X bishop Richard Williamson.

List of member organizations

As of 2008, member organizations included the following:

  1. Ameinu
  2. American Friends of Likud
  3. American Gathering/Federation of Jewish Holocaust Survivors
  4. America-Israel Friendship League
  5. American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)
  6. American Jewish Committee
  7. American Jewish Congress
  8. American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
  9. American Sephardi Federation
  10. American Zionist Movement
  11. Americans for Peace Now
  12. AMIT
  13. Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
  14. Association of Reform Zionists of America
  15. B'nai B'rith International
  16. Bnai Zionmarker
  17. Central Conference of American Rabbis
  18. Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
  19. State of Israel Bonds/Development Corporation for Israel
  20. Emunah of America
  21. Friends of Israel Defense Forces
  22. Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America
  23. Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
  24. Jewish Community Centers Association
  25. Jewish Council for Public Affairs
  26. Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs
  27. Jewish Labor Committee
  28. Jewish National Fund
  29. Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
  30. Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America (JWV)
  31. Jewish Women International
  32. MERCAZ USA, Zionist Organization of the Conservative Movement
  33. NA'AMAT USA
  34. NCSJ Advocates on behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia
  35. National Council of Jewish Women
  36. National Council of Young Israel
  37. World ORT - ORT America branch
  38. Rabbinical Assembly (RA)
  39. Rabbinical Council of America (RCA)
  40. Religious Zionists of America (RZA or Mizrahi)
  41. Union for Reform Judaism (URJ)
  42. Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (Orthodox Union or OU)
  43. United Jewish Communities (UJC)
  44. United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ)
  45. Women's International Zionist Organization (WIZO)
  46. Women's League for Conservative Judaism (WLCJ)
  47. Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ)
  48. Workmen's Circle (Arbeter Ring)
  49. World Zionist Executive, US
  50. Zionist Organization of America (ZOA)


References

  1. Deal Breakers by Michael Massing, The American Prospect, March 11, 2002.
  2. Current Leadership, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations - website.
  3. About the Conference, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations - website.
  4. Presidents Conference to honor Harper, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), December 4, 2008.
  5. Pres. Conf. calls for Pollard pardon, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), December 5, 2008.
  6. Papal audience


See also



External links




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