Young Pro Gets Kudos for Commitment to Israel’s Citizens

The Jewish Week recently announced its third annual “36 Under 36” list, “highlighting new innovators in the New York area who are reshaping Jewish life here and abroad.” We here at JDC are so pleased to announce that Jessica Balaban, Executive Director of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues (IATF), is one of the honorees. Jessica is the founding director of IATF, a coalition of North American Jewish organizations, foundations, private philanthropists, and international affiliates—of which JDC is a leading member—committed to the viability of Israel and equality for all its citizens, both Jews and Arabs.

We caught up with Jessica to ask what inspires her.

“I have always been deeply committed to Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. And in order for Israel to remain our beloved homeland, we the Jewish people and the State of Israel need to recognize where 20% of Israeli society fits into that equation of a Jewish, democratic, safe, secure State of Israel. The perspective of the Task Force isn’t a righteous one—it is one of both Jewish values and pragmatism; Israel’s Declaration of Independence promises social and political equality for all of its citizens, Arabs and Jews alike. So our commitment is to help Israel fulfill on the vision that it laid out for itself. It is from a place of support and love for Israel that we seek to raise awareness of why majority/minority relations are so important for the country’s health and survival.”

Congratulations, Jessica! Keep up this inspirational and important work.

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