Standing Up for Israel

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More Than 100 Students Advocate for Israel on Mission to Washington, D.C.

Last week, more than 100 Yeshiva University students participated in a pro-Israel lobbying mission to Washington, D.C. The mission involved a phalanx of campus political groups, led by the Yeshiva University Political Awareness Club (YUPAC) and including the YU Israel Club, Yeshiva University College Democrats, Yeshiva University College Republicans, and the J. Dunner Political Society. It offered students the opportunity to lobby their members of Congress on issues relating to Israel.

The day began with students from both the Israel Henry Beren and Wilf campuses boarding early-morning buses, fortified by bagels and cream cheese, for the four-hour ride to Washington.

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YU students in Washington D.C. to lobby on Israel’s behalf. (Photo: Courtesy of Daniel Geller)

The first order of business was a stop at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), where they were briefed on the “feeling” on the Hill, what the students should be pushing for and some basic rules about how to lobby a member of Congress.

Twenty-five formal appointments had been arranged with members of the House and Senate, and the students, divided into groups of five or six people, fanned out to keep these appointments, armed with background information and talking points. The organizers tried, as much as possible, to make sure that people were visiting their own representatives so that they could speak to them not only as students but also as constituents.

Some highlights of the day included an in-depth meeting with Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY); a brief conversation with Neil Gorsuch, the nominee to fill the vacant seat on the United States Supreme Court; and a glimpse of Vice President Mike Pence just after his tie-breaking vote in the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education.

“The mission was superb,” said Daniel Geller, a senior at the Sy Syms School of Business and co-president of YUPAC with Stern College for Women senior Esti Hirt. “The feedback I’ve been getting from the groups and others has been incredibly positive across the board. People were very impressed by how well-prepared everyone was, and the students had a great time.”

Phil Goldfeder, assistant vice president for government affairs, accompanied the mission to the District of Columbia and was truly impressed “by the enthusiasm and energy our students demonstrated as they walked the halls of government. It is critically important for our elected leaders to meet directly with students and members of the community who can speak from the heart and with passion about the issues affecting our community, country and the world.”

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(Photo: Courtesy of Daniel Geller)

 

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