by Hannah Brady, Union of Jewish Students (UJS) president and Benny Fischer, European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) president
With recent events in Brussels vivid in our minds, the importance of forming productive international relationships and harnessing European solidarity is becoming increasingly potent. Within the specific context of Jewish community, this too could not be truer.
Only a week ago, we both found ourselves at the World Jewish Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina representing the Jewish student movement (UJS and EUJS), and the British Board of Deputies.
We had the opportunity to meet with representatives of Jewish communities across the world, with Euro-Asian, European, Latin American, Southern African, Israeli, North American and Australasian bodies present.
On a global level, it was unsurprising that certain issues dominated discussion – concern over anti-Semitism, a desire to build a stronger defence against the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, the wish to fortify international relations with Israel, both on a communal and governmental level.
Within the European caucus, other concerns also came to rise: the need for better Holocaust education in countries currently lacking, such as Greece; the importance of learning how to better utilise social media within European communities; crucially, the need to ensure that youth engagement today would be at the centre of providing a thriving Jewish future in Europe.
In solidarity with the Argentinian community and the victims of both, the attacks in 1992 on the Israeli Embassy and 1994 on the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires we concluded the assembly by commemorating the victims.
The importance of the World Jewish Congress was reflected in its high-profile guest list, which included Israeli MK Naftali Bennett, the President of Argentina, H.E. Mr. Mauricio Macri, and the President of Paraguay, H.E. Mr. Horacio Cartes.
To many of the WJC delegates, the opportunity to hear and speak to these guests gave the event a deeper and more prestigious meaning; very few of us would ever have the opportunity to engage with global leadership, least of all those governing the countries of Latin America.
Perhaps, however, it is actually the visibility of the Jewish community in the eyes of the international governing community that we should consider to be the privilege. The potential and the ability of our global community to organise itself, to physically unite in one space, to see significance in each of its constituents, and to commit to the collective needs of its communities is not only valuable but is remarkable in the modern world.
This is what global Jewish peoplehood means after all.
Maybe the achievements of the World Jewish Congress, then, go beyond its political clout and lie more in something seemingly far simpler: bringing people together.