Through its fund-raising and the work of its national and international subdivisions, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) has exerted a major influence on the welfare of Jews throughout the world for more than a century. According to its mission statement, the AJC is committed to countering world anti-Semitism and terrorism; promoting human rights, religious pluralism, and interfaith relations; strengthening Jewish life in the United States and abroad; and seeking an enduring peace for Israel.
The American Jewish Committee (AJC)–not to be confused with the
During the early years of the organization, one of its stated tasks was to ensure that the U.S. government did not attempt to limit the influx of Jewish immigrants, most of whom were coming from eastern Europe. President
One of the main activist Jewish organizations in the realm of immigration policy, the AJC played a prominent role in aiding Jewish victims of both world wars. Toward the beginning of World War I, the AJC established the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the American Jewish Welfare Board to assist both Jewish and non-Jewish servicemen and war victims. To those displaced coreligionists who looked to America after surviving the horrors of the
During the 1980’s, the AJC launched a campaign to pressure the
In the early twenty-first century, as Jewish immigration became less of an issue, the AJC added its powerful voice to combating what it considered anti-immigrant views and vigilantism against Hispanics, urging cable television stations to reveal the backgrounds of “so-called immigration experts” to their viewing public and stating that “issues such as immigration can be explored legitimately . . . without demonizing an entire group of people.” The AJC has also been a strong proponent of increased funding for the acculturation of new immigrants as part of a sound immigration policy, including the learning of English and an “American values education.”
The AJC’s ongoing influence was amply demonstrated at its hundredth anniversary celebration in 2006, which U.S. president George W. Bush, U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan, and German chancellor
Cohen, Naomi W. Not Free to Desist: The American Jewish Committee, 1906-1966. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1972. Discusses the founding and history of the American Jewish Committee up to the mid-1960’s, including the role it played following the world wars and in helping Israel to become an independent state in 1948. Ivers, Gregg. To Build a Wall: American Jews and the Separation of Church and State. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995. Examines Jewish advocacy groups such as the AJC, B’nai B’rith, and the American Jewish Congress that are strong advocates of church-state separation. Robin, Frederick. The Pursuit of Equality: A Half Century with the American Jewish Committee. New York: Crown, 1957. Provides an overview of the first fifty years of the AJC’s accomplishments. Sanua, Marianne R. Let Us Prove Strong: The American Jewish Committee, 1945-2006. Waltham, Mass.: Brandeis University Press, 2007. In its coverage of the post-World War II activities of the AJC, this book overlaps with Cohen’s. Thus, it is most useful in its account of the history of the AJC in the four decades following 1966. As an official publication of the AJC, its tone is generally laudatory.
Religion as a push-pull factor
Russian and Soviet immigrants
World War I
World War II