Summary of July 20th Follow-Up Meeting With Ambassador Schifter and Ambassador Denis Antoine, former ambassador of Grenada to the United States

Approximately 50 people attended this meeting, including representatives of other area synagogues, several African American ministers and others who had either attended the July 13th event or had learned of the Beth El meeting through Christian organizations that support Israel.

Harvey Gershman, Chairman of Beth El Men’s Club Committee to Defend Against the Delegitimization of Israel Within the UN, presented Powerpoint slides summarizing the recent history of this grass roots effort to change votes and provided an overview of Ambassador Schifter’s organization The Jewish International Relations Institute (or AJIRI). The Powerpoint presentation also provided an initial list of the countries whose votes we would like to change.Summaries of key points from the July 13th event were presented by Beth El’s Larry Sidman, who moderated the event as well as by Ambassador Schifter, one of the event’s participants.  Ambassador Schifter also discussed the potential of the Jewish Community and how it could be a crucial resource, providing important assistance in helping to solve some of these countries’ internal issues such as health, development, crime and environmental concerns.

We should listen and learn about the issues and problems facing small Carribbean countries – before we express any of our concerns about Israel and the UN.

Denis Antoine, former ambassador of Grenada to the United States, gave a riveting explanation of both the political perspective and national “psyche” of the Caribbean nations.  He explained why and how these countries should be approached if the Washington Jewish Community is going to make any headway.  Key among his suggestions was that we begin to LISTEN and LEARN about the issues and problems facing these small countries – before we express any of our concerns about Israel and the UN.

The meeting concluded with the representatives of the various synagogues offering to have their respective shuls “adopt” a particular country in preparation for an eventual meeting with its ambassador.   These symbolic adoptions will enable individual synagogues to fully participate in the overall community effort by being responsible for coordinating relationship-building and educating themselves on the particular background and issues of each “adopted” country.

Very importantly, Ambassador Antoine offered to set up meetings with both the Embassy of the Bahamas and the Embassy of Belize in the very near future and others to follow once synagogue groups are developed more.

A fundraiser event for the benefit of AJIRI was also announced by Beth El with “Save the Date”  of December 4th.