May 28, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) Leads Pro-Israel Capitol Hill Mission

On Wednesday, May 9, 200 people joined the Zionist Organization of America in Washington, D.C. to participate in the ZOA’s annual Pro-Israel Capitol Hill Mission. The day started bright and early, boarding Washington-bound buses in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Philadelphia and New Jersey. Others from around the country flew, drove or took a train, and met the group at the Capitol.

The delegation traveling on the New Jersey bus was a bona fide cross section of pro-Israel society: women, men, doctors, lawyers, educators and other professionals—some working, others retired—and most impressive, we were fortunate to be joined by several students from the Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls and the Bergen County High School of Jewish Studies. Everyone took time out from their busy schedules to stand up for a safe and secure Israel. The New Jersey bus was managed by Susan B. Tuchman, the director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, and by Alan Jay, executive director of the ZOA’s Northern New Jersey chapter.

To maximize the efficiency of the mission, the ZOA provided all mission participants with the talking points to be addressed with the lawmakers in advance, including background information and instructions on how to lobby effectively. The talking points for this year were Iran and Judea and Samaria.

We were incredibly fortunate that, just days prior to the mission, President Trump announced the United States withdrawal from the dangerous JCPOA Iran nuclear deal. Still, our talking points remained the same:

Thank our representatives for passing H.R. 1698, the Iran Ballistic Missiles and International Sanctions Enforcement Act and ask our senators to pass a similar bill in the Senate.

Urge our representatives to support H.R. 5132, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Economic Exclusion Act and ask the senators to introduce and support a companion bill in the Senate.

Impress upon all lawmakers the value of a credible military option to persuade Iran to abandon its ongoing pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Impress upon both senators and representatives that the U.S. should also support any military action Israel determines to be necessary and appropriate.

The goal of our second set of talking points was to make sure that Congress understands why Israel has the legal, political, historic and religious rights to Judea and Samaria and that we emphatically object to the myth and lie that this area is occupied. We offered the following as partial proof:

Jews have lived in the area continuously for thousands of years; the term “Jew” is derived from Judea/Yehuda.

The name “Palestine” is a Roman name, imposed as a slight to the indigenous Jews whom the Romans opposed.

Recent history, dating back to the Balfour Declaration, the San Remo conference, the League of Nations, and U.N. Charter (Article 80), all confirm Israel’s legal right to include Judea and Samaria as part of the Jewish homeland.

We arrived at the Capitol building in time to be welcomed by ZOA National President Morton Klein. Mr. Klein has been at the forefront of Israel advocacy for many years. He has testified before Congress and regularly meets with high-powered government officials and heads of state. The strength of Mr. Klein’s conviction and his command of the facts surrounding Israel and her right to exist is unparalleled. Klein reviewed the state of Israeli affairs, thanked President Trump for the pending embassy move to Jerusalem and for withdrawing from the ill-conceived JCPOA Iran nuclear deal. He also spoke about Judea and Samaria and applauded everyone for caring so much about the security and safety of Israel and for recognizing the importance of strong and secure U.S.-Israel relations.

During the luncheon that followed, the group was addressed by a cross-section of senators and representatives, Republican and Democrat, including but not limited to: Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ). As the afternoon progressed, we broke into small groups to meet with senators and representatives or their staffers. The New Jersey delegation of ZOA activists met in the offices of Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Corey Booker (D-NJ) and Congressmen Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ5), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ9), Frank Pallone (D-NJ6), Leonard Lance (R-NJ7), Albio Sires (D-NJ8), Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ11) and Donald Norcross (D-NJ1) and Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ12). We shared our views and encouraged their continuing support for Israel and for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. Each of these lawmakers was incredibly receptive, welcoming and attentive to our cause. It was especially rewarding when Senator Menendez specifically greeted the students and commented that their presence showed that the future of the ZOA and Israel is in good hands!

By capping the ZOA Pro-Israel Capitol Hill Mission to 200 participants, this becomes a most intimate lobbying experience. We hope you’ll join us next year.

We thank the Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls for allowing the New Jersey delegation to meet the bus and leave our cars in their parking lot.

By Alan D. Jay

�Alan D. Jay is the executive director, Northern New Jersey Chapter of the Zionist Organization of America.

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