About Us

IATF was created in 2006 by a coalition of major American Jewish organizations and philanthropies* as a non-partisan educational resource on Arab citizens and Jewish-Arab relations in Israel. A membership organization, IATF quickly grew into a coalition of more than 100 organizations committed to making Arab citizens, one-fifth of Israel’s population, a mainstream concern of the North American Jewish community.


IATF promotes American Jewish discourse and engagement that is informed by the complex realities and current developments on the ground. Through programs, capacity-building, and partnerships with American Jewish leaders, funders, educators, and professionals, IATF supports nuanced and contextualized discourse, impactful philanthropy, and stronger and more robust engagement with Israel.


IATF envisions American Jewish communities as informed stakeholders that view and connect with Arab citizens as integral to Israeli society, economy, democracy, and regional relations. We believe that educational experiences connecting American Jewish communities with Arab citizens are mutually enriching and contribute to conditions for shared society and civil equality in Israel.

Who we are

Executive committee
Brian Lurie, Co-Chair
President, Caroline and Brian Lurie Philanthropic Fund*

Rabbi Brian Lurie served for seventeen years as Executive Director of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties and for five years as President of the San Francisco Jewish Museum. He has worked in Israel and America to promote equality for Israeli Arabs and as Executive Vice President of the United Jewish Appeal (UJA), he was instrumental in launching the second phase of Operation Exodus and provided the vision and strategic direction under which UJA has begun to broaden its mandate. Rabbi Lurie developed the concept of “The Living Bridge”, a metaphor which is redefining the broad range of relationships and the partnerships, as equals, of American Jews and Israelis. Both the Israel Experience for teens and Partnership 2000 were created as pillars of the Living Bridge.
Rabbi Lurie received his B.A. from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania and a Masters in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. He has been granted honorary degrees from both Lafayette College and Hebrew Union College.

Ariel Zwang, Co-Chair
Chief Executive Officer, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee*

Ariel Zwang is CEO of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the global Jewish humanitarian organization operating in 70 countries worldwide. Ariel took the helm of JDC, and its team of hundreds of professionals, in January 2021.
Ariel previously led Safe Horizon, one of America’s leading social service agencies, where she served with distinction as CEO for twelve years. Her mastery of complex organizational dynamics and multi-faceted operations helped transform the organization, as she doubled its size and enhanced its financial, operational, programmatic, and strategic health. Ariel oversaw its staff of 1,000, a $100 million budget (including tens of millions in government contracts and grants), and programs impacting 250,000 vulnerable people annually.
Her distinguished career in the human and public service sectors includes her tenure as Executive Director of New York Cares, New York City’s largest volunteering organization; as a White House Fellow in the Department of Housing and Urban Development; as Vice President of the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation in the South Bronx; and as Special Assistant to the Chancellor of the New York City Board of Education. Ariel began her career with Morgan Stanley and the Boston Consulting Group.
As a noted expert in social support for vulnerable populations and advocate for the impact of volunteerism, Ariel has regularly appeared in media discussing these trends. She was a board member of the Human Services Council of New York, and the Points of Light Foundation, and was ranked the “2nd most powerful nonprofit leader in New York State” on City and State’s Annual Power List.
A passionate Jewish leader hailing from a family of rabbis and Jewish educators, Ariel has held numerous community leadership positions underscoring her commitment to Jewish practice, pluralism, and the diversity of Jewish life. She is a Vice President of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Manhattan; and has served in a variety lay roles at UJA-Federation of New York; as a past Board Member of Jewish Coalition for Service; and with the New York Committee for Harvard Hillel.
Ariel received an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in Applied Mathematics from Harvard College. She and her husband, Gordon Mehler, are the parents of two young adult daughters and reside in Manhattan.

Kenneth Jacobson
Deputy National Director, Anti-Defamation League*

As ADL’s Deputy National Director, Kenneth Jacobson serves in a number of capacities including representing ADL when CEO Jonathan Greenblatt is not available, writing extensively on ADL subjects, speaking to groups across the country and educating ADL staff and volunteer leaders about the history and legacy of the organization. Ken joined ADL in 1971. He is the longest serving ADL professional and has served in many roles, including leading the International Affairs, Civil Rights, Marketing and Communications, and Education divisions at various times. Ken has a BA in history from Yeshiva University and an MA in history from Columbia University.
Mr. Jacobson holds degrees from the City College of the City University of New York, the Yeshiva of Flatbush, New York University School of Law, Clark University, Iona College, Florida International University and has completed graduate work in advanced Judaic studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and in international economics at The New School for Social Research. Mr. Jacobson is the author of Never Again?: The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism and The Deadliest Lies, and is the recipient of the Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Leadership Award, the State of New York at Albany University Medallion and Austria’s Grand Decoration of Honor in Gold, among others.

Libby Lenkinsky
VP of Public Engagement, New Israel Fund

Libby is the Vice President for Public Engagement at the New Israel Fund, where she leads all aspects of NIF’s public efforts in the United States – including communications, digital, programs, events, leadership, community partnerships and engagement, New Generations and our fellowships. Prior to joining NIF, Libby lived and worked in the Israeli non-profit field for almost a decade. There she worked as Director of International Relations at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and as a strategy consultant for human rights organizations like Yesh Din and Physicians for Human Rights, for documentary films including Budrus and The Law in These Parts, new media initiatives like +972 Magazine, and for progressive campaigns. She is a founding member of Zazim-Community Action and The Whistle. Currently, Libby serves on the board of Comet-ME, Hashomer Hatzair North America and is a NY co-chair for the Reboot Network. Libby is based in Brooklyn and travels to Israel-Palestine frequently.

Professional Team
Liron Shoham
Executive Director

As executive director, Liron oversees implementation and strategic growth of IATF’s mission and vision. Joining IATF in 2012, she integrated her passions for fruitful connecting across communities and disciplines.
Liron’s personal and professional journey is guided by her lifelong focus on cross-cultural and intergroup relations as drivers of social change. Born in Israel and raised in the US, Liron’s formative experiences led to a study of anthropology and arts-semiotics at Brown University; a Masters in Conflict Resolution at Bradford University, England; and a host of subsequent creative and professional pursuits, including Shusterman Fellowship. Prior, Liron was Director of Operations for the Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s (HGF) New York office. This was her second role as Jewish professional; the first with American Friends for the Weizmann Institute of Science as part of Major Gifts and Foundation Relations. Prior to IATF, positions at the American Friends of the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation anchored in her the powerful links between the American Jewish community and Israel. Liron lives in Long Island with her husband and daughter.

Erica Shaps (she/her)
Associate Director, U.S.

Erica Shaps joined the IATF team in 2020. As the U.S Associate Director, she manages strategic partnerships and develops educational programs, trainings, and resources pertaining to Arab citizens and Jewish-Arab relations in Israel. Erica has dedicated her career to elevating lesser-heard voices in Israel and advancing meaningful education and constructive conversations on Israel and the Middle East in North American Jewish communities. She planned immersive learning experiences with Palestinians in the West Bank at Encounter Programs and supported social mobility programs, focused on Arab citizens and Haredim, as a Fellow with JDC-Israel. With experience in humanitarian and conflict research, monitoring and evaluation, and grant writing, Erica has also consulted for diverse institutions. She received her BA from Brandeis University in Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies and an MA from the Fletcher School at Tufts University in International Law and Diplomacy as a Wexner Fellow/Davidson Scholar. Erica is a trained facilitator and mediator and currently lives in Cambridge, MA.

Michal Barak
Israel Representative, Israel

Michal joined the Inter-Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues (IATF) as Israel Representative in 2023. Michal previously founded and directed the Unit for Diversity and Inclusion at Hebrew University. In that role, she led the university’s efforts to diversify its student body, faculty, and administrative staff, as well as to provide the conditions for every student to fulfill their potential. Additionally, Michal worked for many years to promote democratic values and shared society in Israel’s education system. She founded an educational NGO “A Different Lesson” and a women’s peace organization, “Women Wage Peace.” Michal remains active in organizations promoting shared society and democratic values. Michal has an LL.B. (Law) from Hebrew University and an M.A. in Linguistics from Rutgers University.

Miranda Hellmold Stone (they/them)
Programs and Operations Associate, U.S.

Miranda Hellmold Stone joined the Inter-Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues (IATF) in 2022. They support IATF’s operations and the development of educational programs and resources. Miranda was a 2022 Gilda-Slifka Intern at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and completed research for the Agunah Task Force. Prior, Miranda served as an intern at Los Angeles Review of Books, Persea Books, and Karlitz & Company. Their writing has appeared in New Voices Magazine and Los Angeles Review of Books, and a summary of their archival research on Jewish migration from Meretz, Lithuania to the Boston area lives in the Harvard Library’s Judaica Division. Miranda holds a B.A. in Jewish Studies and minor in History from Smith College.


IATF’s membership structure anchors us as an organization created by and for the American Jewish community. Membership is also the primary way for American Jewish organizations to stay involved, support our work, and express your commitment to this mission. Annual membership dues remain by far IATF’s largest source of revenue. Dues are set on a sliding scale and processed via JDC, IATF’s fiscal sponsor. JDCs financial and legal documents can be found here. Member organizations are invited to assign a professional representative(s) that will be key contact(s) with IATF, attend meetings and briefings, work with IATF staff to develop and partner on programs and trainings, and share our resources across your organization and network.

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220 East 42nd Street
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New York, NY 10017


Does the IATF provide grants for organizations, research or trips?

The IATF is an educational content provider and is not a grantmaking organization.

Can I donate without becoming a member?

Yes, for more information on donating CONTACT US or visit

Are membership dues tax deductible?

Yes, the Task Force sits within the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and falls under its 501(c)(3) and Federal Tax ID, which means your membership dues are tax deductible in the United States. Please contact your tax advisor for donations made outside of the United States.

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