Israel has long stood at the nexus of global politics and religion. For those who are interested in protecting the Jewish homeland, educating others around the world about the country is a vital mission. To that end, Project Interchange, an initiative overseen by the American Jewish Committee (AJC), has been offering unique and life-changing seminars since it began in 1982. With some 6,000 alumni living in nearly 90 countries around the world, Project Interchange has been focused on ensuring that leading thinkers, politicians, religious figures, and educators have the opportunity to learn more about Israel and its context in the Middle East.
The genesis of Project Interchange can be traced back to the conflict between Lebanon and Israel, when Debra Berger expressed concern about the lack of interest in Middle Eastern topics in the American body politic. A decade later, Project Interchange was developed by Berger following her own intensive study of the region. With the participation of the Jerusalem Institute and other partners in Israel, the first seminars were launched. Today, everyone from political figures and philanthropic leaders to journalists and academics participate in Project Interchange’s innovative seminars, which are often customized to fit the needs of every group of students.
The organization’s seminars aim to avoid partisan politics or propaganda. Instead, participants are provided with unfettered access to journalists, politicians, and leaders across Israel. Due to the help of AJC’s international and regional field offices, as well as other partners around the world, each seminar is geared toward the needs of participants. Seminars cover virtually every topic related to Israel. Participants are invited to debate and discuss issues with leaders from across the political spectrum, including voices from the Palestinian and Israeli Arab communities. Project Interchange provides these services to approximately 300 leaders every year. In addition, alumni are encouraged to participate in continued dialogue through the organization’s alumni programs and outreach efforts.