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Israel Today: Tragic Headlines & How We Can Help

By on October 27, 2014

Another week, another tragedy in Israel.  Though many of us have become almost accustomed to hearing bad news emanating from the Jewish State, this week’s tragic loss struck particularly close to home.  The loss of Chaya Zissel Braun, a three-month-old American-Israeli from Los Angeles, hit the community hard.

To add insult to injury, when many of us read about the terror attack which took her life, we came upon the shocking headline from the Associated Press, “Israeli police shoot man in East Jerusalem.”  The terrorist, who had just rammed his car into innocent men, women, and children at a train station, was portrayed as just another man quarreling with police.

Headlines like this one are nothing new, but never cease to amaze.  No matter how much Israel does to protect innocent life, it is always portrayed as the villain.  While we in the community understand the media bias against Israel, the vast majority of Americans do not.  Uninformed and uninterested, most Americans digest their news about Israeli in sound-bites and headlines.

Thankfully, despite the steady stream of anti-Israel press, most of our country’s leaders have remained pro-Israel.  In July, Congress voted to support Israel’s right to defend itself by an enormous margin, with the Senate voting by unanimous consent in defense of the Jewish state.  This is a reflection of the years of hard work our community has put in to build relationships and cultivate strong, pro-Israel leaders.

Yet recent stories and polls have shown shifting trends in support for Israel on the ground.  In July poll, just 57% of Americans answered that they thought Israel was “justified in taking military action against Hamas” in Gaza, including just 45% of Democrats.  In fact, though overall support remains strong, more and more leaders are feeling more comfortable voicing their criticisms of Israel and Israeli policy, including opinions on settlements and Gaza.

Recently, Secretary of State John Kerry hinted that ISIS, otherwise known as the Islamic State, was having success in recruiting foreigners due to the continued Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  This comes after other comments this summer in which Kerry alluded to Israel as potentially on the path to becoming an Apartheid state.  Our longest, and strongest relationships are beginning to show signs of decay.

Two years ago 93 new Representatives and 13 new Senators were elected to Congress—nearly 20% of the entire body.  Of the 93, most had never traveled to Israel, many had never left the country, and dozens did not even hold a Passport.  These 116 new members of Congress, despite having few connections to Israel or our community, now make up 20% of the body that distributes more than $3.5 billion of military assistance to Israel each year.  Polls are showing that this year it is likely that even more new members will be elected, including one right here in Los Angeles.

As young professionals in the community, we have a unique opportunity to develop long-lasting relationships with the leaders that will determine Israel’s future.  Unfortunately, we cannot rely on the truth alone to support our cause.  Instead, we must work night and day to ensure that our future leaders understand how important Israel is to their constituents, and to their country.  Only by cultivating and electing strong supporters of the US-Israel relationship can we continue to ensure our community’s interests are fought for.

During the year, I work with American Jewish students across the country.  Over the last few weeks, I’ve taken time off from my job in Chicago to fly back to Los Angeles and support Elan Carr, someone I know will be a true leader for Israel and our community.  While most of us do not have the luxury of taking weeks off work, we can all do our part to ensure Israel’s future.  From writing op-eds to making phone calls, each of us can take action to ensure Israel’s continued support.  Most importantly, we all must vote and make our voices heard.

Without our help, the relationships our parents built will mean nothing.  It is our time to determine Israel, and America’s future.

 

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About Alex Jakubowski

Alex is the Deputy Campaign Manager for Elan Carr for Congress. He is also a co-founder and serves as Executive Director of the Delegation of Jewish American Students. Previously, he worked as an Associate at Capitol Media Partners, a global strategy firm based in Los Angeles. Alex graduated Northwestern University with Honors in Classics, with research focused on the legislative authority of the Roman Senate. His political writings have been featured in dozens of online and print publications. Fluent in three languages, Alex is a frequent traveler to Europe and the Middle East.