Diplomacy Summit 2024 - World Jewish Congress
MAY 26-30, 2024

From May 26–30, 2024, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) hosted its annual Lauder Fellowship Diplomacy Summit, bringing together 30 Fellows from 21 countries to engage in high-level discussions and activities in Brussels and Geneva. This summit focused on understanding and addressing the current geopolitical landscape, particularly the role of NATO, the European Union, and the United Nations in global diplomacy, with a special emphasis on Jewish life and combating antisemitism. This intensive conference provided participants with deep insights into the workings of key international institutions, fostered networking among Jewish leaders and activists, and reinforced the commitment to combating antisemitism and promoting Jewish life globally.

The Lauder Fellows were welcomed in Brussels, where they learned about what to expect at the Diplomacy Summit from Daniel Radomski, Head of Strategy and Programs, Yoni Hammerman, Director of NextGen, and Rebecca Schneider, NextGen Manager. From there, the Summit kicked off with an educational refresh on the European Union, complete with an overview of the EU's systematic function and activities from Dany Levin Prist, WJC's EU Affairs Manager. The night concluded with a dinner hosted by the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS), hearing from EUJS President and 2022-2023 Lauder Fellow, Emma Hallali, about the challenges and opportunities over the last year and looking hopefully to the future. 

The next day, the delegation visited the NATO office, hearing from top diplomatic experts and program officers on NATO's prioritized actions and strategies toward major global issues, such as its response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Afterward, the group took a brief networking lunch, allowing the Lauder Fellows to connect with representatives of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, and the upcoming Hungarian Presidency. Wrapping up for the evening was a dinner event with the WJC Brussels Office, allowing the Fellows to further the day's discussions and expand their networks.

On Tuesday, WJC co-organized an important seminar, Building Bridges in Divided Times, in collaboration with the European Union Commission, EUJS, and the Representation of the German State of Hessen to the European Union. Participants heard from three young activists:  Hanna Veiler, Vice President of EUJS; Costel Nastasie, Project Coordinator at Yahad-In Unum; and Iman Abou Atta, Director of Tell MAMA. The panelists provided insights on the obstacles they face to democratic participation and why there is a general demand for increased civic engagement in European sociopolitical circles amongst ordinary citizens. The seminar ended with an open discussion led by Emma Hallali, President of EUJS, and Robin Sclafani, Executive Director at CEJI: A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe, engaging participants in a broader exchange on the challenges of bringing people together in politically turbulent times. After a day of learning, the Fellows attended the Atomium, an outdoor tourist attraction in Brussels, for a reflective debrief session before heading off to the next leg of the Diplomacy Summit in Geneva, Switzerland. 

On Wednesday, Elias Frija, Secretary General of the Jewish Community of Geneva (CIG), welcomed the Lauder Fellowship delegation to Geneva. Afterwards, the group was enlightened on the Swiss Jewish Community's general activities and roles by Jonathan Kreutner, Secretary General of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG). The delegation later engaged in roundtable discussions with Ambassador Meirav Eilon Shahar, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations and International Organizations in Geneva, about Israel's diplomatic role at the United Nations in Geneva. From the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Azin Tadjdini then briefed the group on how to combat online hate speech. From there, the Fellows embarked on a guided tour of the International Committee of the Red Cross, which provided profound insight into the humanitarian work that the organization does. 

On the final day of the Diplomacy Summit, the group attended informative sessions with Ambassador Katharina Stasch, German Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, and Ambassador Michèle Taylor, Permanent Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), before hearing from WJC's own Director of Diplomacy, Leon Saltiel.

With a visit to the WJC Office in Geneva, where the Lauder Fellowship learned the history of WJC's origins in Geneva and its global impact, the Diplomacy Summit concluded.


Day 1
Sunday, 26 May

Introduction to the Diplomacy Summit

After a challenging year, the Lauder Fellows convened in Brussels to kick-off the Diplomacy Summit with a welcome to from Daniel Radomski, WJC Head of Strategy and Programs, Yoni Hammerman, Director of NextGen, and Rebecca Schneider, WJC NextGen Manager. 

Understanding the EU Institutional Landscape

Dany Levin Prist, WJC Manager of EU Affairs, gave a comprehensive introduction to the structure and functions of the European Union institutions, and the importance. of the upcoming European election. 

Dinner with the European Union of Jewish Students

The Lauder Fellows were joined by the European Union of Jewish Students for their first night in Brussels, where they heard from EUJS President and 2022-2023 Lauder Fellow Emma Hallali about the challenges and opportunities of the last year, and hopes for the future. 

Day 2
Monday, 27 May

NATO’s Current Agenda

Nicola de Santis, Head of the Engagements Section in the Public Diplomacy Division of the NATO Headquarters in Brussels, discussed cooperative projects and important strategic priorities to preserve peaceful and secure relations between the NATO alliance and its member nations.

NATO's Response to Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

Ms. Paula Redondo, Programme Officer for Russia, shared insights on NATO's actions and strategies amidst the Russia-Ukraine war and its impact on its European neighbors. 

The Run-Up to the Washington Summit

Benedetta Alberti-Berti, Head of Policy and Planning Unit, Office of the Secretary General, outlined priorities and future directions.

Israel's Strategy in the EU and NATO

During a standing lunch with Mrs. Tal Ben Ari Yaalon, Political Counselor, Mission of Israel to the EU and NATO, the Fellows received insights into the Israeli strategy working in the EU and NATO and its challenges and opportunities. 

The Council of the European Union and the Upcoming Hungarian Presidency

During a meeting with Ambassador Bálint Ódor, Hungarian Permanent Representative to the EU, he discussed upcoming Hungary's priorities as they prepare to chair the Council of the European Union.  

The European Commission's Efforts on Safeguarding European Jewry

Katharina von Schnurbein, European Commission Coordinator on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life, highlighted the European Commission's initiatives and best practices to combat antisemitism and foster Jewish life across Europe, and how it has shifted since October 7. 

Dinner with WJC Brussels Office

The Fellows made their way over to the WJC Brussels office, where they met with WJC Brussels staff and learned more about the activities of the office. 

Day 3
Tuesday, 28 May

Building Bridges in Divided Times

During the opening session of the Seminar on Building Bridges During Divided Times, cosponsored with EUJS and the European Commission, participants heard from Claus-Peter Appel, Deputy Head of the Permanent Representation of Hessen to the EU, Emma Hallali, EUJS President, María Rodríguez Alcázar, President at the European Youth Forum, and Katharina von Schnurbein,  European Commission Coordinator on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life. 

Workshop on Youth Civic Engagement

Participants split into breakout groups to discuss the importance of civic and young engagement in social and political life. 

Coalition Building in Divided Times

During a panel discussion with Hanna Veiler, Costel Nastasie, and Iman Abou Attal, they discussed the importance of coalition building and best practices. 

Lessons from the Past and Looking to the Future

Ariela Di Gioacchino, EUJS Policy Officer, and Robin Sclafani, Executive Director at CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe, discussed historical insights and future directions for the global Jewish community. 

Visit to Atomium and Debrief

On the way to the airport, the Fellows stopped at the historical Atomium to debrief and discuss the sessions of the day. 

Day 4
Wednesday, 29 May

Welcome & Meeting with Elias Frija

Starting off the day in Geneva, the Fellows met with Elia Frija, Secretary General of the Jewish Community of Geneva, who shared the history of the Jewish community as well as its current challenges and opportunities. 

Meeting with Ambassador Meirav Eilon Shahar

During a candid conversation with Israel Ambassador to the  UN Meirav Eilon Shahar, she discussed the challenges of the Israeli Mission to the UN, but also the opportunities and success. Discussed Israel's role at the UN in Geneva.

Guided Tour of the International Committee of the Red Cross

The Fellows visited the museum of the International Committee of the Red Cross to learn about its history and activities today. 

Meeting with the OHCHR

The Fellows met Azin Tadjdini, Associate Human Rights Officer at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, for a conversation about the rise of online hate and how to address it on an international scale.  

Understanding the Swiss Jewish Community

The Fellows hosted a dinner withJonathan Kreutner, the President of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities who spoke about the history of Swiss Jews, their relationship with government and politics, and how its changed since October 7. 

Day 5
Thursday, 30 May

Meeting with Deputy Ambassador Nikola Gillhoff

The German Mission to the UN in Geneva Deputy Ambassador Nikola Gillhoff shared Insights on how the German government is working to combat antisemitism and its role in the UN in Geneva.

Meeting with Ambassador Michèle Taylor

U.S.Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Michèle Taylor shared her perspective and insight working in Geneva post-October 7th as a Jewish woman, and her jounrey into diplomacy. 

Informal Meeting with WJC Director of Diplomacy, Leon Saltiel

WJC Director of Diplomacy, Leon Saltiel spoke about WJC's mission and strategy working in Geneva and the UNited Nations, as well as how he had to pivot post October 7th and the tsunami of antisemitism. 

Closing Session

The Fellows debriefed and reflected on the Diplomacy Summit and the past year, as they get ready to end their Fellowship. 

Visit to WJC Office in Geneva

During a visit to the WJC office in Geneva, the Fellows learned about its historic presence and said their final goodbyes.

WJC NextGen

WJC NextGen supports and empowers Jewish students leaders in high school, university, and post-graduation who are making a difference in their communities today and to train them to be the changemakers of tomorrow.

Lauder Fellowship

The Lauder Fellowship is an international network of top Jewish student leaders seeking to represent and advocate on behalf of the global Jewish community.

This Fellowship caters to university students or individuals connected to Jewish Student Unions, aged 18-26.