Lobbying Washington principals and bureaucrats, introducing Israeli government insider Akounis, giving talks in Philadelphia and New Jersey, talking up ZOA’s Israel program at two dinner events, training campus leaders, updating colleagues, catching up with ZOA ISRAEL partners… A lot was accomplished during our recent U.S. trip. A lot falls on us now to follow up.
Deputy Minister Ofir Akounis enthusiastically agreed to speak at ZOA’s national office after Israel Director Jeff Daube asked him, during a Knesset meeting last month with American Jewish leaders, to include ZOA in his December U.S. visit.
Knesset liaison to Prime Minister Netanyahu Akounis addressed a number of issues, including the extreme danger of a Palestinian state led by the currently hostile PA, recently evidenced by its incitement to violence in Jerusalem.
Those present (e.g., ZOA National President Mort Klein and Vice-Chair Dr. Alan Mazurek, pictured with Akounis in between), and on the concurrent conference call, were pleased to hear strong positions evinced by an up-and-coming Israeli leader.
Two regional ZOA programs bracketed our Washington week: In Philly, we described our activities aimed at improving Israel’s control and sovereignty in eastern Jerusalem, especially on the historic Mount of Olives, and our plans to pursue the problem from a U.S. government angle. In New Jersey, our Legal Grounds Knesset campaign, and corollary efforts to counter the State Department’s Trans-Green Line Boycott (aka TGLB), was the main theme.
Face time with honoree Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), amid ZOA’s elbow-to-elbow dinner crowd and a slew of other meeting opportunities, turned out to be particularly helpful — setting us up for an extended and thoughtful conversation in his D.C. office the following week.
It was our privilege, having been asked by MK Nissim Ze’ev, to host Col. Moneeb Bader at the dinner. Bader is a decorated Druze IDF commander and leader of the Druze IDF Vets Association. Poignantly, this was just after two Druze police officers had sacrificed their lives while protecting Jews in Jerusalem.
We had a chance to reconnect or get acquainted with additional key players at the Beit El dinner as well, including our warm friend and dinner honoree Gov. Mike Huckabee. (Read more about our highly productive week in Israel with Huckabee, post-Gaza war, in our Media Activities report.)
Our Jerusalem-Washington conversation continues — at the State Department
Northern New Jersey ZOA director Laura Fein joined us for the first portion of our back-to-back Washington meetings — back and forth between Capitol Hill and Foggy Bottom, returning to Daube’s usual haunts with some additions. We kicked off with a visit to the State Department, granted after ZOA ISRAEL had sent a letter to Dr. Sarah Sewall, the Under Secretary of the Bureau of Civilian Security, Democracy and Civil Rights.
A process begun when Daube had approached the State Department’s representative in Jerusalem (Consul General Michael Ratney’s briefing on the Mount of Olives pictured below and described here), we apprised officials, including Sewall’s Deputy Assistant Secretary Steven Feldstein, and Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism Ira Forman, about eastern Jerusalem conditions.
For more information on this Jerusalem – Washington conversation please click here.