Today I took my second trip to Washington DC with Norpac, a PAC based in the New York area dedicated to strengthening the US-Israel relationship.
Over 800 people took a day off of work to advocate the importance of this relationship to our lawmakers and to request help on specific bills.
Capitol Hill was crawling with mostly religious Jews, talking to nearly every senator and member of Congress or their aides. As I mentioned last year, for today at least it really was a Zionist-occupied government.
Norpac organizes the logistics brilliantly, training hundreds of laymen with talking points and providing background information, scheduling all the appointments and arranging for followup.
My group first visited a congresswoman froma southern state. We were scheduled to meet her aide but as soon as we started talking to him she entered the room. She is strongly pro-Israel and very much against giving money that could go towards terrorism, and indeed even against the US giving money to the UN.
She spoke to us for so long that we we almost late to the next meeting, with a southwestern congressman. His voting record is spotty on issues that the pro-Israel crowd supports, but it appeared that his objections were more technical - he is a stickler for agreeing to all the amendments and riders and if he has a problem with one, he might not vote for it.
My talking point was about the concerns of funding the PA while we cannot guarantee that Hamas doesn't benefit. He asked, very reasonably, how we could ensure that the money won't be misappropriated, while still giving support to the "moderates" supposedly on our side. (This is not the place to argue with that, if the Israeli leaders support the PA we are not going to tell politicians not to.)
Our third meeting was with an aide for a Western congressman. He is also very pro-Israel and informed us that IDF pilots train in his state.
I had a little time to sightsee afterwards. I got a ticket from my local representative to visit the House gallery and watch a pretty boring session. I was a bit taken aback that the seats in the gallery have a pattern on them that include a backwards swastika. No cameras or any electronics are allowed there so I couldn't take a picture, but it was disconcerting to see. Maybe I'll call my congressperson...
Altogether, it was a very fruitful day. It is vital for our leaders to know that this issue is important to us, and it makes a big impression on them to welcome a delegation of 6 or 8 ordinary people who are passionate about Israel. There is no doubt that Norpac brings results, and I highly recommend that any New York/New Jersey area readers join the mission next year.