The American Jewish Committee (AJC) is a global lobbying and propaganda organization which supports the Zionist movement and US state. The AJC operates 24 regional offices in the United States as well as 16 overseas offices, and maintains 36 international partnerships. AJC New England is a regional office of the American Jewish Committee, located in Boston.
Since its founding in 1906, the American Jewish Committee has engaged in lobbying and propaganda efforts to support both the Zionist movement and the interests of the US government, working to delegitimize and destabilize Global South governments and political movements opposed to the Zionist project and/or opposed to US hegemony and empire. In the midst of the vociferous campaign of persecution against Communists and suspected Communists spearheaded by US Senator Joseph McCarthy in the early 1950s, the AJC used its resources to spy upon dissidents within the Jewish American community, handing over files on these individuals to the (so-called) House Committee on Un-American Activities and to FBI investigators. The AJC also leveraged its position as a self-identified Jewish organization to refute the claims of persecuted Jewish community members that antisemitism was a driving factor behind US government's zeal to prosecute them. My Jewish Learning (a pro-Israel media outlet) reports:
Testifying before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, a representative of the American Jewish Committee emphasized that “Judaism and Communism are utterly incompatible.” The Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, and the Jewish War Veterans cooperated with HUAC [The House Committee on Un-American Activities] and opened their files to the committee ... The American Jewish Committee assigned a full-time staff member to investigate Communist infiltration into Jewish communal life ... Mainstream Jewish organizations refused to help the Rosenbergs, and they vehemently denied the charge of Herbert Aptheker, Howard Fast, and other Communists that the Rosenberg case was an American Dreyfus affair.
The National Community Relations Advisory Council–made up of the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, the Jewish War Veterans, the Jewish Labor Committee, and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations — accused the National Committee to Secure Justice in the Rosenberg Case (the Rosenberg Committee) of being a Communist-front organization and of fomenting hysteria among Jews by claiming the Rosenbergs were victims of anti-Semitism. Convinced of the guilt of the Rosenbergs, the American Jewish Committee openly supported their execution. Rabbi S. Andhill Fineberg, a member of the AJC’s staff, wrote a long exposé entitled The Rosenberg Case: Fact and Fiction (1953), which strongly championed the jury’s finding of guilt and the judge’s sentencing of the Rosenbergs to death. [emphasis added]
The AJC's advocacy for the Zionist project and the interests of the US government continued during the rise of anti-racist movements in the US in the 1960s and 1970s. The AJC played a central role in demonizing Black social movement leaders as antisemitic for criticizing Israel and expressing support for Palestinians. In 1967, the AJC attacked the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Black caucus of the Conference for New Politics in Chicago for passing a resolution "condemning Israel as the aggressor in the June war" (American Jewish Yearbook 1968, p. 234, see: here). AJC leadership pressured Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to condemn the Black caucus's resolution. Through these actions, the AJC helped foment a division within the domestic Black freedom struggle around the question of Palestine, weakening the struggle as a whole.
The American Jewish Committee continues to staunchly support the Zionist movement and the interests of the US government to this day. The AJC's form 990 from 2020 states that when "contacting federal and state agency and elected officials regarding existing of pending legislation, AJC's activities focused principally on foreign affairs legislation including sanctioning Hezbollah and Hamas as terrorist organizations and support for U.S.-Israel cooperation; measures directed against boycott of, divestment from, and sanctions against Israel." (AJC 990 form, 2020, p. 30) The AJC's form 990 from 2020 further details: "During 2020, AJC advocated to secure the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism in the U.S. and around the world and urged nations to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, among other agency wide goals." (AJC 990 form, 2020, p. 55)
The AJC's present focus on pressuring governments worldwide to label Hezbollah as a "terrorist organization" likely stems from Hezbollah's successful opposition to Zionist forces in the region over recent decades, including Hezbollah's expulsion of Zionist forces from Southern Lebanon in 2000 (following nearly two decades of Zionist occupation) and Hezbollah's subsequent expulsion of Zionist ground troops following Israel's invasion of Southern Lebanon in 2006--two events widely regarded not only in Lebanon but across the region as harbingers that Israel's colonial forces in the region (and US imperialism in the region more broadly) can be defeated (see: here, here, and here). Similarly, the AJC's present focus on pressuring governments worldwide to label Hamas as a "terrorist organization" likely stems from the deterrence Hamas (along with other armed factions in Gaza) have established against Israel's ability to wage unchecked, unilateral war against the people of Palestine. The recent willingness of Hamas to defend Palestinians in Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and '48 Palestine (in addition to Palestinians in Gaza) is particularly notable in this regard. By pressuring governments worldwide to label Hezbollah and Hamas as "terrorist organizations," the AJC intends to stomp out the deterrence these groups have established against Israel's capacity to wage unilateral war against people in Palestine, Lebanon, and across the region.
One initiative the American Jewish Committee uses to promote this objective of global support for the Zionist project is its "Project Interchange." Through Project Interchange, the AJC coordinates delegations to Israel made up of government officials and diplomats, university leaders, media and opinion leaders, and civic and religious leaders. According to the AJC's website, participants in these delegations are "exposed to diverse perspectives from Israeli leaders shaping headlines, innovators driving the 'Start Up Nation,' and experts who share best practices and insights on issues and challenges facing Israel and the world." The AJC further notes: "Interactions with representatives of Israel’s vibrant, multifaceted society and open dialogue with Israeli and Palestinian leaders is key to our educational approach. Upon their return home, participants join the Project Interchange Alumni Network - 6,000 global leaders from all 50 U.S. states and over 115 countries."
In 2020, the AJC launched a propaganda effort under the hashtag "#BlackJewishUnity," ostensibly aimed at undermining US-based Black activists' growing identification with the Palestinian cause, notably including the Black Lives Matter movement's public position of support for the Palestinian struggle. Similar to the AJC's weaponization of false charges of antisemitism against SNCC and the Black caucus of the Conference for New Politics in the 1960s, the AJC's current effort to combat Black-Palestinian solidarity not only serves the interests of the Zionist project, by undermining Black solidarity with the Palestine cause, but also serves the interests of the US government, by fomenting divisions within the contemporary Black freedom struggle which is attempting to dismantle the US state's institutions of racist violence. Such divisions negatively impact the domestic Black freedom struggle not only because they divide Black activists in the US from one another, but also because they weaken essential interconnections between Black activists in the US and anti-racist, anti-colonial struggles worldwide.
Indeed, the American Jewish Committee's contemporary support for the Zionist project is often functionally intertwined with its support for the interests of the US state. The AJC's recent statements and actions regarding Bolivia and the Organization of American States (OAS) offer one illustrative example of this fact. In 2014, the AJC began attacking the democratically-elected, Indigenous president of Bolivia Evo Morales with false allegations of antisemitism, stating: "President Morales’ hostility towards Israel has encouraged regular attacks against the country’s Jewish population in the media and violent attacks on Jewish institutions. This is a very dangerous trend that only the government can and should vigorously turn back and end.”
In 2019, the Organization of American States (OAS), a body formed and backed by the US government, supported a coup against Evo Morales. The day after Bolivia's 2019 presidential elections, in which Morales won the greatest share of the vote by a comfortable margin, the OAS issued a press release expressing "deep concern and surprise at the drastic and hard-to-explain change in the trend of the preliminary results.” The OAS did not and has not provided any evidence to substantiate its speculations that fraud occurred in Bolivia's 2019 election, and even the mere logic of the OAS's unsubstantiated claims of fraud have been debunked by an independent analysis commissioned by the Center for Economic and Policy Research and completed by two professors from MIT’s Election Data and Science Lab. The OAS-backed coup against Morales inserted a right-wing anti-Indigenous leader named Jeanine Áñez into the nation's presidency. Áñez selected a cabinet which did not include a single Indigenous person, in spite of Bolivia's population being 41% Indigenous, and after Áñez assumed power, police officials under her watch tore patches of the Wiphala flag (a flag honoring Bolivia's Indigenous nations) off of their uniforms, while members of the Bolivian right-wing attempted to rip the Wiphala flag down from public spaces across the country (see: here, here, here, and here).
In 2019, just months prior to the OAS-backed coup in Bolivia, the American Jewish Committee presented the Secretary General of the Organization of American States Luis Almagro with the AJC's "Champion of Democracy Award" at an AJC ceremony in Washington DC. The American Jewish Committee put out a press release following the ceremony which quoted Amagro's speech upon receiving the AJC award, noting that Amagro strongly denounced "Iran and Hezbollah, a terrorist organization, that have a solid base of operations in South America," before declaring, “the cowards that attack democracy and the values of human dignity it represents have found fertile ground to operate in Cuba and Venezuela. And because evil breeds evil, and evil attracts evil, Latin American dictators in the 21st century have partnered with terrorists and antisemitic actors and organizations."
Far from feeling shame for having celebrated an anti-Indigenous coup-backer, two years later in 2021 the AJC put out yet another press release celebrating the fact that "the OAS was adopting the IHRA working definition and would urge its 35 member states to do the same," and further noting, "Today, Almagro said the OAS has applied for IHRA membership as an institutional partner. In addition, the OAS and AJC are working on the publication of a Latin American version of the Handbook for the Practical Use of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism published by the European Commission in January." [Multiple examples of antisemitism listed in the IHRA definition falsely conflate anti-Zionism with antisemitism.] The AJC's 2021 press release specifically applauded Amagro for stating: “We are witnessing antisemitic campaigns in many places trying to delegitimize Israel and calling for its disappearance ... I want to say it loud and clear – calling for the disappearance of the State of Israel is an act of terrorism and is plain, simple antisemitism.”
[El Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS), the political party Evo Morales led prior to the 2019 coup, recently retook power in Bolivia under a different leader, following unprecedented popular mobilizations in support of MAS led by the country's Indigenous and working class peoples.]
Located in Boston, AJC New England is one of the AJC's 24 regional offices in the United States. AJC New England, the ADL of New England, and the JCRC of Greater Boston have worked together to coordinate opposition to 2018 and 2021 efforts to pass a BDS legislation in Cambridge MA. AJC New England has also supported the multiple (so-far unsuccessful) attempts to pass anti-BDS bills in the Massachusetts state legislature over the past decade. AJC New England is a member organization of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Boston. Robert Leikind currently serves as AJC New England's Regional Director.