By Gordon Haas
This week, we need YOU to do two things:
• Vote in the Special Senatorial Elections – Wednesday, October 16
• Register and attend the Step Up For Israel Advocacy Summit — Sunday, October 20
If your life is anything like mine, you are functioning in full operational mode since the completion of the High Holidays. You have been invited to many programs and fundraisers and probably have many of your own deadlines and family commitments that you are squeezing into a short time period. With all of this, I want to make sure that you don’t miss out on attending the Israel Advocacy Summit.
If you have been following the New Jersey Jewish News and Federation’s e-Update, there have been a number of articles and blogs featuring the Israel Advocacy Summit.
Why is Federation focusing so much energy on this event?
The reason is that we need your involvement in advocating for Israel. Throughout the year, the Community Relations Committee (CRC) of Greater MetroWest NJ and Jewish communal organizations work to educate and mobilize the community on issues of importance to Israel and our community.
The Summit is the big event of the year. Our aim is to ensure that you, the suburban grassroots community that makes up Greater MetroWest, have the opportunity to hear from expert speakers and have your voices counted in high level policy debates and decisions. You need to know there are many important efforts in which we need your involvement.
Iran – We are very close to an historic turning point. Is Iran moments away from developing nuclear weapons? Will negotiations with the new Iranian president make a difference? Will the U.S. act in concert with Israel? Where is Israel’s the red line? If Israel was to strike Iran, how would this impact the Jewish community in Greater MetroWest and the United States? What do you need to know to be able to discuss, defend, or analyze this concern in your local community?
For the past seven years, the CRC has led the Stop Iran Now Task Force, which has helped to galvanize New Jersey elected officials to understand that a nuclearized Iran is a national security concern for the U.S. and Israel. We successfully supported the first round of sanctions and the additional measures that have been implemented since 2010.
We also have worked with state legislators to impose measures against New Jersey companies that do business with Iran. We continue to support economic and diplomatic pressure so that this issue may be resolved. The potential nuclearization of Iran is of grave concern and we carefully watch every development. It is imperative that our legislators to continue to know that this issue is an urgent matter and for our community to be ready to respond to an Iran crisis.
Arab Spring – What is happening in the Middle East? There are democratic elections, civil war, military take overs, and use of chemical weapons. What does this all mean for the future of the Middle East and for Israel? How can we best understand the paradigm in which this historical transition is taking place and what, if anything, can we do about it? Should the U.S. continue to give aid to Egypt? Should we take military action against Syria? How do we determine the best way to achieve the best outcome for the democracy and freedom of the Arab population and the security of Israel?
We are very fortunate to have Marty Gross, president of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, in our community. Through his passion and insight, we have the amazing opportunity to hear from Andrew Tabler, an expert on Syria and Arab lands, as our keynote at the Summit. Andrew is THE expert who has been speaking on TV and writing about the situation. He has lived in Syria and met many of the players. We hope that you are as thrilled as we are to welcome him to our community and take advantage of this great opportunity.
Israel Advocacy — As the anti-Israel groups that support Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) continue to advocate at the grassroots level to stop U.S.-Israel financial cooperation and to influence public opinion against the Jewish State, we call upon our grassroots community to mobilize and educate others against false accusations. We don’t believe that supporting BDS is the best way to peace. We need serious peace talks and people to know about the wonderful contributions Israel makes to the world.
In additional to traditional advocacy efforts such as speaking with policy makers, responding to negative media reports, and signing petitions, the CRC is also calling on community members to share through social media their positive experiences with Israel, diplomatic outreach, and how to effectively speak with the non-Jewish community.
There is a lot to learn and we have wonderful presenters. We hope you will register and attend. And we invite you to stay for lunch and participate in afternoon workshops that will focus on media response, countering attacks on Israel legitimacy, and diplomatic relations.
I have REGISTERED for the Summit — have you?Visit www.jfedgmw.org/Summit.