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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

So you think you’re pro-Israel?

Published: October 17, 2008
Section: Opinions

People demonstrate their pro-Israel spirit in a myriad of ways. For example, Israel is the only country in the world that entered the 21st century with a net gain in the numbers of trees. That may be thanks to the thousands of Jews around the world who donated money to plant trees in honor of special occasions, in memory of loved ones, and simply to help revive the lush forests of the Jewish State. And this past year, nearly every college campus with a pro-Israel community held a cultural event featuring falafel and Israeli dancing to honor Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day and 60th birthday. While this type of dedication is essential to maintenance of the connection between the Diaspora and Israel, I am here to tout what I believe to be a more effective type of pro-Israel activism: let’s get political.

Every year the American Jewish Community is able to raise $200 million for Israel through organizations like the Jewish National Fund and B’nei Brith. At the same time, a body of just 535 mostly non-Jews are able to give Israel $3 billion a year. That group of people is the United States Congress- 100 senators and 435 representatives- who are scheduled to deliver $30 billion to Israel over the next ten years (75% of it will be spent back in the United States) as foreign aid. Working through the United States Congress is the most cost effective and time efficient way to support Israel. As shown by past contribution the U.S. Government has far greater assets to contribute

If you ask any Member of Congress if they support a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, the majority of them will answer positively. But Israel is obviously not on their top ten or twenty most important issues. Because we rely on Congress to keep strong the U.S.-Israel relationship, we need to be active to keep them informed of an issue that is not always on their radar.

How can that be done? How can a student be expected to put pressure on the Legislative branch of the U.S. Government to support an oil-less, New Jersey sized country in the Middle East? First of all you should know that the idea isn’t as far fetched as it seems. The United States and Israel share more than just the bonds of a friendship formed over the past 60 years. It began when President Harry Truman became the first to officially recognize Israel as a country, seconds after it was declared independent. Israel is like the U.S. because it is a democracy- imperfect and flawed, yet with huge objectives and ambitions to perfect itself. Both nations share a commitment to justice and transparency of the government and law. Both countries exhibit similar strengths and weaknesses with a comparable drive to correct. To aid Israel in her goals of security and peace is to aid the United States in her aspirations to spread freedom and justice to all.

Now what can you, the over-extended, over-worked, over-tired college student, possibly do to help Congress stay committed to the cause? There is an answer! First of all, you cannot worry about the cries against Israel and the seemingly eternally growing anti-Israel movements. I believe that there are simply too many challenges and too much hostility to battle in a 24 hour day. A pro-Israel activist needs to be proactive, not reactive. Next, I believe in the power of one: one student to contact one Member of Congress and build a relationship with him or her through volunteering, invitations to speak on campus, sending articles of interest to them, and investing that one red-hot commodity: time. This process doesn’t need masses, it needs individuals. I believe that these relationships can be built in a series of one-on-one conversations with club leaders, student government representatives, and professors on campus. Then, when you speak to your Member of Congress on behalf of Israel, you aren’t alone.