Imagine walking into a room filled with over 1,000 people all applauding as Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz forcefully speaks about the importance of Israel. This image was the beginning of my memorable and unique experience. On April 30, I had the privilege of traveling to Washington, D.C. with other Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway (HAFTR) High School students to participate in NORPAC, a political action committee focused on promoting United States-Israel relations.
All participants met at the Washington Convention Center to listen to senators and representatives speak, and were then divided into assigned groups for the remainder of the day. Every group was assigned four scheduled meetings with senators, representatives or a mix of both. Packets of four talking points were distributed so the groups could prepare what they would discuss with the members of Congress such as supporting continued security assistance to Israel, addressing the Iranian threat to the U.S. and its allies, sanctioning Hezbollah, and exposing the bigotry of the BDS (boycott, divest, sanctions) movement. Whether it was the actual Congress member or assistant, the purpose of the meeting came across loud and clear — how important Israel is to each and every one of us. It was especially reassuring to know that in just one day we made an obvious difference.
During my group’s meeting with Ohio District 15 Rep. Steve Stivers, (R-Columbus), we informed him of the Hezbollah International Financial Prevention Act, an act that targets Hezbollah’s drug trafficking and public relations arm. He wasn’t aware of the act, but was interested in it and eager to co-sponsor it. My group was delighted at how well the meeting went and at how passionate the representative was when it came to protecting Israel. “That was our best meeting. Representative Stivers was easy to talk to and the fact that his assistant just came back from Israel made the meeting that much better,” said HAFTR junior Alexandra Seelenfreund.
Despite all the rain that day, NORPAC’s Mission to Washington visit was a success. The next Mission to Washington trip is May 13 of next year.