On Wednesday, as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made his first visit with President Trump, the United States-Israel Security Alliance – a bi-partisan ad-hoc committee – convened on Capitol Hill to thank leading and influential members of the Senate who have shown unwavering support to Israel, and to urge them to continue to fight to protect Israel. “The U.S.-Israel Security Alliance is comprised of prominent business leaders who represent a cross-section of views, but are staunchly unified in their approach when it comes to the security-related issues that impact the U.S. and its ally Israel,” explained Ezra Friedlander, CEO of The Friedlander Group and founder of the Security Alliance. “We made sure to meet with members of the Senate from both sides of the aisle.”
This mission comes at a vital time, as there has been a high level of anxiety and disappointment across the Jewish Community since the U.N. condemnation. As a direct result, two significant legislative efforts have been made by members of the Senate: the Safeguard Israel Act of 2017 by Senator Ted Cruz, which aims to cut off all funding to the U.N. until the vote is reversed, and the resolution by Senators Rubio and Cardin, which “object[s] to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 and to all efforts that undermine direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians for a secure and peaceful settlement.”
“I believe we’re in a dramatically different position under this administration. I am hopeful that the campaign promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem will be followed through, and I am energetically urging that as often as possible,” Senator Cruz assured the co-chairs. “If we pass S.107, I think within a few days the U.N. would reverse the decision,” Cruz said, hopeful for his bill.
“If you were to move your family to the Middle East, where would you take them?” Senator Ron Johnson, who co-sponsored both bills, poignantly asked. “All U.S. action should be to strengthen our relationship with Israel.”
“Rather than finding the problem in Israel, this administration believes that the solution lies in Israel,” Senator Steve Daines, who co-sponsored both bills, reassured the Alliance.
Senator Mike Lee explained that despite his state being primarily Mormon, Utah is a close friend to Israel, as Mormons, too, have suffered religious persecution. Fellow Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, the longest-serving Republican in Congress, echoed these sentiments: “This U.N. vote put Israel in a bind and our country in a bind, and I still haven’t gotten over it yet” Senator Hatch urged. Both Utah senators co-sponsored both bills.
Senator Bill Nelson, a former astronaut, told the Alliance, “I brought a with me to space!” As close a friend Senator Nelson is to the Jewish community, he does not support defunding the U.N., arguing that the U.N. serves an important purpose, and has only co-sponsored S.Res.6.
Other Senators that the Security Alliance met with include: Joni Ernst, Chuck Grassley, Roy Blunt, Al Franken, Bill Cassidy, Maggie Hassan, and Tim Scott.
The Alliance wasted no time, also taking the opportunity to have lunch with H.E. Babacar Diagne, Senegal’s Ambassador to the U.S. The relationship between the mostly Muslim West African state of Senegal has been steadily improving since the 1990s; however, Senegal voted for U.N. Resolution 2334, straining the relationship between the two states heavily, and causing Israel to recall its ambassador. Therefore, the Alliance’s meeting with Ambassador Diagne was primarily to discuss ways that the countries could mend relations, and move forward from the vote.
The co-chairs of the Alliance concluded the day tired, but grateful and smiling.
“It was an outstanding day. We covered a lot of ground and I think that we are probably going to see a lot of support for Israel coming out of this,” assured Sol Goldner, CEO of Goldstar Healthcare. “It was interesting because Prime Minister Netenyahu was meeting with President Trump, so the Senators had one eye on them and one eye on us, and were giving us updates on what was going on in the White House. Israel was the topic of the day in Washington. Hopefully the right kind of pressure – financial and otherwise – to accomplish the goal of voiding vote 2334 and being more fair to Israel in the future.”
“We traveled to Washington to see what damage control can be done after the shameful U.N. Resolution 2334. The purpose of the trip was both to educate and to thank the Senators for their support,” explained Joseph B. Stamm, CEO of MedReview
“We had a lot of robust dialogue vis-à-vis Israel, and there was bipartisan support with respect to what happened to Israel. There were mixed opinions on whether to defund the U.N., but there was a clear understanding that a lot of damage was done to Israel and it’s important for this new administration to work toward rectifying that,” said Aubrey Sharfman, Executive Director of Morgan Stanley’s Sports Division.
Rubin Margules, who is on the National Board of Zionist Organization of America, explained: “It is always important to show yourself, to be counted, and to have your representatives see you.”
As a bi-coastal group from Los Angeles to New York, our advocacy resulted in enhanced support for US-Israeli ties on multiple levels including how to address lopsided UN actions that negatively impact Israel unfairly said Stanley Treitel, Board Member of Jerusalem Conference and the Raoul Wallenberg Commission.
The Mission was aptly summarized by Peter Rebenwurzel, Chairman of the Raoul Wallenberg Commission and board member of Maimonides Medical Center, quoting Ethics of Our Fathers: “It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it.”
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