Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (CoP; commonly Presidents' Conference) is an American non-profit organization that addresses issues of critical concern to the Jewish community. It comprises 51 national Jewish organizations. It was founded to develop a consensus voice among Jewish organizations in dealings with the executive branch.
The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organization was founded 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 organization was headed by Yehuda Hellman. After his death in 1986, Malcolm Hoenlein became chairman. Hoenlein took a much stronger role in shaping U.S. policy, especially within the executive branch.
The Presidents' Conference and AIPAC work together, with all members of the conference sitting on AIPAC's executive committee, which is distinct from its board of directors. The two organizations follow a clear division of labor. The conference focuses on the executive branch of the U.S. government, while AIPAC lobbies in Congress.The chairperson is Richard Stone.
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 are strengthening the special U.S.-Israel relationship; ensuring that Israel's interests are 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; and protecting 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 Israel. Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice-chairman of the conference, stated that the award was given to express the group's appreciation for Canada'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 Israel. Malcolm Hoenlein stated that Pollard should be pardoned on humanitarian grounds, adding that "It's time that he be released. He has expressed remorse."Pollard, who was branded as a traitor in the U.S. but considered a hero in Israel, was released in November 2015, almost thirty years from the day when he was arrested. Pollard was scheduled to speak to members of the Conference in January 2016 in New York. U.S. Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Eliot Engel, to discuss efforts to lighten Pollard’s parole conditions, in which both congressmen have been actively involved.
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 2014, member organizations included the following:
- Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi)
- American Friends of Likud, a group supporting the right-wing Likud party that has been a leading force in Israeli politics since 1977.
- American Gathering/Federation of Jewish Holocaust Survivors
- America-Israel Friendship League
- American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)
- American Jewish Committee
- American Jewish Congress
- American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
- American Sephardi Federation
- American Zionist Movement, a coalition of Zionist groups and individuals, and the American affiliate of the World Zionist Organization.
- Americans for Peace Now
- Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
- Association of Reform Zionists of America/World Union North America, the Zionist arm of the Reform movement and an affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism.
- B'nai B'rith International
- Bnai Zion
- Central Conference of American Rabbis
- Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
- Development Corporation for Israel/State of Israel Bonds: Since 1951, Israel Bonds sales have helped Israel’s Finance Ministry support projects in key sectors. Bond sales have exceeded $25 billion.
- Emunah of America: Chapters and divisions around the United States support Israel’s largest Religious Zionist educational and social welfare organizations.
- Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF): Supports social, educational, and recreational programs and facilities for Israeli soldiers and supports bereaved relatives of fallen soldiers.
- Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America
- Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
- Jewish Community Centers Association
- Jewish Council for Public Affairs
- Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs
- Jewish Labor Committee
- Jewish National Fund
- Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
- Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America (JWV)
- Jewish Women International
- MERCAZ USA, Zionist Organization of the Conservative Movement
- NA'AMAT USA: This group has pursued its goal of supporting the women and children of Israel for the past 80 years.
- NCSJ Advocates on behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia
- National Council of Jewish Women
- National Council of Young Israel
- World ORT - ORT America branch
- Rabbinical Assembly (RA)
- Rabbinical Council of America (RCA)
- Religious Zionists of America (RZA or Mizrahi)
- Union for Reform Judaism (URJ)
- Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (Orthodox Union or OU)
- United Jewish Communities (UJC)
- United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ)
- Women's International Zionist Organization (WIZO)
- Women's League for Conservative Judaism (WLCJ)
- Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ)
- Workmen's Circle (Arbeter Ring)
- World Zionist Executive, US
- Zionist Organization of America (ZOA)
- Michael Massing, Deal Breakers The American Prospect, March 11, 2002.
- Current Leadership, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations - website.
- About the Conference, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations - website.
- Presidents Conference to honor Harper Archived December 6, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), December 4, 2008.
- Pres. Conf. calls for Pollard pardon, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), December 5, 2008.
- Jonathan Pollard, spy for Israel, released from prison after 30 years Washington Post, November 20, 2015
- Jonathan Pollard reportedly to speak with Jewish leaders JTA, January 21, 2016
- Papal audience
- JTA (7 January 2014). "Jewish Fraternity Becomes Full Member of Conference of Presidents". The Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
- Avrum Ehrlich, Encyclopedia of the Jewish diaspora: origins, experiences, and culture, Vol.1, (2008)p.640
- American Israel Public Affairs Committee
- Anti-Defamation League
- Israel lobby in the United States
- Jewish Council for Public Affairs