Project Interchange

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Project Interchange (PI), based in Washington, DC, is a project run by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) to send foreign "opinion makers", e.g. journalists, editors, politicians, academics, and "terrorism experts", to Israel to try to give them a more favorable view of Israel[citation needed]. The opinion makers then return home to "spread the word"[citation needed]. In particular, PI has targetted "radio talk show hosts" in the United States[citation needed].

Advancing Israel's image

Project Interchange was started in 1982 and has sent over 5,000 people, those who can most influence others, to Israel from over 60 countries. They are given week-long training sessions. "Alumni of Project Interchange seminars go on to author widely-read articles, give sermons and speeches, forge new cooperative initiatives, and drive important policy decisions". Project Interchange regularly hosts events around the world for the graduates.

Their website states, "The impact of a Project Interchange seminar continues long after leaders return home, as they participate in alumni programs; put their new networks, ideas, and understanding of Israel to work; and go on to shape public opinion and policy."[1]


Debra Herman Berger "founded Project Interchange in 1982 and operated it out of her home during its early years. She led tours to Israel for many years and continued to direct the organization after it became part of the American Jewish Committee in 1992."[2]

Expenses paid

Expenses are paid for by the group.[3]


Several Project Interchange alums listed among 100 most influential Hispanics

Hispanic Business magazine included alums, Rey B. Gonzalez, Maria del Pilar Avila, and others, in its list of "The 100 Most Influential Hispanics in America."[4]

America's Influential Latina Leaders Visit Israel

In 2010, twelve prominent Latina leaders visited Israel for "intensive dialogue and briefings". The group included senior figures from major American businesses, media networks, and civic organizations. They traversed "much of Israel on a program emphasizing Sephardic heritage and the achievements of Israeli and Hispanic women throughout history. The Project Interchange seminar was organized in cooperation with the AJC Latino and Latin American Institute and the National Council of La Raza."[5]

More alumni

  • Sonia Sotomayor, US Supreme Court Judge, the first Hispanic on the US high court, went in 1986 as a private lawyer
  • Emily Ann Youssouf, former President of the New York City Housing Development Corp.
  • Zeyno Baran, Director of the Center for Eurasian Policy and Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank
  • Geza Tessenyi, Founder and President of the Intercultural Communication and Leadership School (ICLS), a non-profit association based in Rome and Islamabad, and CEO of Positive Majorities Intercultural Communication Systems (Positive MIX Ltd, London)
  • Katrin Hatzinger, Deputy Head and Legal Counsel at the Office of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD)[6]
  • Ted Strickland, Democratic Representative and Governor Ohio - U.S. 2004 Members of Congress Seminar to Israel and Jordan
  • James B. Milliken, President, University of Nebraska - University Presidents Seminar, June 2008
  • Rebecca Segers, - Protestant Leaders Seminar, March 2008
  • Enrique Mujica, Chile, General Editor, "Que Pasa" Magazine - Chilean Leaders Seminar, July 2008
  • Ishani Chowdhury, Director of Public Policy, Hindu American Foundation, Washington D.C. - NGO Seminar, 2008
  • Donna E. Shalala, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President Clinton[7]
  • Noah Shachtman, one of the editors of Wired Magazine

Example alumni events

  • New York, February 23, 2009 - Construction Leaders alumni reception with Professor Anat Berko in New York City, chaired by Bob Peckar. Dr. Berko discussed her new book, The Path to Paradise, the Inner World of Suicide Bombers and their Dispatcher.
  • Conference Call, January, 2009 - In coordination with AJC's Belfer Center, PI organized a conference call: Discussion of recent events in Gaza featuring Dr. Mark Heller, Principal Research Associate at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University[8]


Board members


Past National Chairs

Senior staff

  • Sam Witkin, Executive Director Prior to joining PI in May 2008, Sam served as National Affairs Director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism. Formerly, he was the President of Tel Aviv University: American Council, leading all fund-raising and educational activities in the US. He also spent twelve years with AIPAC
  • Ida Singelenberg, United States Programs Director
  • Nisha R. Abkarian, International Programs Director
  • Veronica Machtey, Assistant Director, International Programs
  • Amit Katzir, Communications (U.S.) previously worked for the US Foreign Commercial Service in Singapore, the San Diego Chamber of Commerce, and various international trade consultancies[10]

Contact details

1156 15th Street, NW
Suite 1201
Washington DC 20005
Phone: 202-833-0025
Fax: 202-331-7702
Email: pi AT

Resources and articles

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. About page, Project Interchange, accessed December 2010.
  2. Debra H. Berger, 72, dies; founded Project Interchange, The Washington Post, September 16, 2010.
  3. Preparing for Your Seminar, Project Interchange, accessed December 2010.
  4. Home page, Project Interchange, accessed December 2010.
  5. "America's Influential Latina Leaders Visit Israel", National Council of La Raza, March 9, 2010.
  6. Featured alumni, Project Interchange, accessed December 2010.
  7. In their words, Project Interchange, accessed December 2010.
  8. US Alumni Events , Project Interchange, accessed December 2010.
  9. Board members, Project Interchange, accessed December 2010.
  10. Senior staff, Project Interchange, accessed December 2010.

For further information, see relevant Neocon Europe page Project Interchange