Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Golda Och Academy Students Attend AIPAC Summit

The following articles were written by Golda Och Academy students who attened the 2011 AIPAC Schusterman Advocacy Institute High School Summit in Arlington, VA, Nov. 6-8. The event brought together 400 students from select Jewish day schools, synagogue youth groups, and teen leadership organizations nationwide who are committed to supporting the US-Israel relationship through involvement in the American political process. The goal of the Summit was to provide students with the most advanced political training available, so that they can be more effective activists for a strong US-Israel relationship. The GOA delegation met with Arthur Mandel, a West Orange resident and legislative assistant for Congressman Bill Pascrell. The Golda Och Academy delegation would like to thank Mrs. Karen Ulric for chaperoning.

By Kineret B.

On our second and longest day of the Schusterman AIPAC High School Summit, our delegation, along with the many other students, attended many sessions that specialized in many areas. A few of them focused on the reasons behind the different issues in the Middle East in which we learned that it is not as simple as “Arabs hate Israel,” but that there are many underlying problems that cause the uneasy relationships in the Middle East and around the world. Our other sessions were mainly focused on the importance of lobbying Congress members and how to do so effectively. We were familiarized on the positions that AIPAC takes on each issue and how to present it in a professional yet personal and conversational way to our political representatives.
Most of the day was filled with structural information, so it was nice to take a break from it all during lunch when we heard four inspirational speakers. The first speaker was an African American representative of North Carolina who spoke of his support for Israel even though he is not Jewish. The next speaker was a southern, Catholic woman who got involved with AIPAC and now works with college students to promote pro-Israel support, yet she is not Jewish. The third speaker was a Muslim who got involved in his on-campus Hillel in college and involved in AIPAC, and has become a strong Israel supporter. He also is not Jewish. The last speaker was a Hispanic college student who attended an AIPAC policy conference and has become a pro-Israel leader on campus, but to our surprise, she also is not Jewish. From these four speakers, it was clear to us that Israel is not alone, and the Jews are not alone. There are people that support Israel as an existing state, and it is not necessary to be Jewish to be passionate about it. There are so many ways to help support Israel, and if effort is put into it, Israel will continue to exist and strive as a Jewish State.

By Daniel S.

As the Schusterman AIPAC Summit comes to a close, our delegation can only look back in awe and appreciation for all the AIPAC personnel who led and inspired us on our journey to becoming pro-Israel lobbyists and activists. Throughout our three days in Arlington, Virginia, our group was immersed in learning about AIPAC’s different approaches and views on Israel’s current political situation. After this, we were introduced to various methods that we, both as individuals and as a school, can use to promote theses issues to our elected officials. Equipped with these tools, the group took to Capitol Hill where we were scheduled to lobby the administration of Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. Upon entering the office, we were greeted by Arthur Mandel, Rep. Pascrell’s legislative assistant. Mr. Mandel acts as the representative’s “decision maker” by recommending in which way Mr. Pascrell should vote. After discussing our stances on the issues with him, Mr. Mandel jubilantly explained that he, along with Congressman Pascrell, agreed with us on the majority of the issues and would sponsor legislation that has a positive effect on Israel in the future. Although our group was very glad about the reception we received from the Congressman’s staff, we realized that we must keep in contact with the staff for their voting record to stay this way. And so, we hope to raise awareness in our school about this new form of Israel advocacy and hope for it to bring much needed support for AIPAC and most importantly, Israel, in the future.