David J. Michaels is Director of United Nations and Intercommunal Affairs at B’nai B’rith International, representing the nearly 180-year-old Jewish communal, advocacy and service organization’s membership in some 50 countries. Michaels bears responsibility for engagement with officials and diplomats at the world body, and has spearheaded outreach to diverse religious and other groups. Previously, he was B’nai B’rith’s Director of Intercommunal Affairs and, earlier, Special Assistant to the CEO. He has traveled extensively on six continents and met numerous senior government and faith leaders, among them Pope Francis, UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
He has spoken at UN Headquarters, the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Organization of American States and on Capitol Hill; publicly testified against anti-Israel economic pressure campaigns within mainline Protestant denominations; brought dozens of international ambassadors to Israel; and accompanied interreligious leaders to the scenes of Nazi atrocities. With the family of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, he facilitated the delivery of books on Jewish identity to cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy facing harassment and attempts at proselytism. He helped to promote UN recognition of Yom Kippur on its official calendar, and exposed global agencies’ and corporations’ association with a purveyor of antisemitism, prompting them to end these ties.
He also has planned, for over a decade, yearly Holocaust remembrance programs at the UN. Additionally, he has organized high-level missions to strategically vital countries including India, Japan, Azerbaijan, the United Kingdom, France, Ethiopia, Uganda and Georgia. He helped convene a major international conference on genocide, featuring eminent figures including Rwandan Chief Justice Faustin Ntezilyayo, Father Patrick Desbois, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, former Canadian Attorney General Irwin Cotler and French public intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy. He also mobilized the largest Jewish delegation to the Durban Review Conference on racism, and has overseen televised programming on anti-Zionism featuring luminaries including the onetime Soviet prisoner of conscience Natan Sharansky, former U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens and past Maldivian Foreign Minister Ahmed Shaheed.
Michaels’s work and perspectives have been featured by NBC, FOX and ABC stations, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Times of India, the Financial Times, FOX News, Newsweek, the Jerusalem Post, Al-Arabiya, ORF Austrian television, the Hindu, Reuters TV, Al-Hurra, Saudi TV 2, BR German television, the Los Angeles Times, La Stampa, the New Times of Rwanda, the Jordan Times, the Times of Israel, The Hill, CNN.com, Global Post, the Sankei News, Anadolu Agency, Israel Radio, L’Osservatore Romano, Catholic News Service, the Forward, the Jewish Week and JTA, among other outlets.
Michaels trained at the Foreign Ministry of Germany, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Office of William Jefferson Clinton, the Embassy of Israel in Washington, Ha’aretz and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. He has also served as a counselor for young people with autism and various developmental disabilities.
A Wexner Fellow/Davidson Scholar, Michaels is the recipient of a Bachelor’s degree in political science from Yeshiva University and a Master’s degree in international relations from Yale. He is a winner of the Young Professional Award of the Jewish Communal Service Association, a Nahum Goldmann Fellowship of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture and the Sidney H. Closter Award for an outstanding professional at his organization.