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Washington - A number of Jewish leaders from across the United States gathered with a bipartisan group of senators, congressmen and other notables this past Wednesday in Washington DC to express their appreciation to members of the Senate and the House of Representatives for their support of the Iron Dome Missile Defense System.
Seventeen members of congress and Israeli ambassador Michael Oren were among those who gathered in the Kennedy Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building for the Iron Dome Tribute Luncheon. The event also honored the memory of Senator Daniel Inouye, who was instrumental in securing funding for the Iron Dome and was known as a staunch ally of the State of Israel throughout his illustrious political career which spanned over fifty years.
“We have no political agenda,” explained Robert Rechnitz, chairman of the tribute luncheon. “We are here to simply offer our gratitude to the United States for its unwavering support of Israel.”
Video of the event credit: Shmuel Lenchevsky.
Since 2009, the Obama administration and congress have allocated almost $300 million to the short range missile defense system which is credited for saving the lives of thousands of civilians during recent rocket attacks this past fall. Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, praised Iron Dome for its ability to destroy missiles in combat situations saying, “It is literally rocket science.”
“The Iron Dome doesn’t only save lives, it prevents wars,” declared Ambassador Oren. “Behind the Iron Dome stands a marble dome: the Capitol of the United States of America.”
Among the many speakers during the luncheon was Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Republican Congressman Ed Royce of California, who stressed the significance of Americans seeing the effectiveness of the anti-ballistic missile system in action and praised Iron Dome for its ninety percent success rate.
“My overriding goal as chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee is to strengthen American allies like Israel and weaken our enemies like Iran and Hezbollah,” said Royce.
The luncheon was also an opportunity to recognize both the accomplishments of the many members of congress who have demonstrated their support for Israel as well as the strong ties between the United States and Israel and several of the elected officials who spoke shared their recollections of their own visits to Israel.
Congressman Joe Kennedy III recalled seeing reinforced bus shelters that doubled as bomb shelters on his recent visit to Sderot.
“The only thing Israel asks for is its right to exist. That’s not too much to ask,” said the Massachusetts Democrat.
Politicians from both sides of the aisle expressed their unwavering support for Israel and the Iron Dome, with Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel announcing, “Support for Israel is strong and bipartisan and that’s the way it should be,” and Republican Congressman Trent Franks declaring, “The Iron Dome has become the face of missile defense for the world.”
Ezra Friedlander, CEO of The Friedlander Group which coordinated the event, called the luncheon a resounding success.
“The importance of gathering in the Senate to express a sense of gratitude goes a very long way in communicating with members of Congress how much the American Jewish community and the entire pro-Israel community values their ongoing support and how critical it is for the US-Israel relationship,” Friedlander told VIN News. “Although we live in the age of Twitter, the importance of face to face communication and interaction cannot be overemphasized and that was accomplished this week at the Iron Dome tribute.”