Yesterday, I joined with close to 800 activists to spend the day lobbying in Washington as part of the Norpac mission.Of course during my career I have participated in perhaps 50 such trips from Huvpac,the OU and AIPAC .
One interesting event ocurred when I went to see Cong. Jim Marshall (D-Ga) who was wounded in Vietnam during the time I served there.Howevever he was not at our hospital.While talking to him, his aide ,a young man said to me "I know you,I went to MTA ( Yeshiva Univ. H.S. Manhattan) with your son Ari. The other aide was a Westchester Day School graduate, and was wearing a yarmulke.It is nice to see such orthodox men serving in Capital Hill,and especially for a rural Congressmen.
A number of lessons.
1-The fact we had such a group,following the 6000+ AIPAC group,shows the vitality of our community.Many,many were youngsters.
2-The Congressional support for Israel is wide and deep.
3-Even as we witness possible tensions between Obama-Bibi,each office said that aid to Israel would never be reduced,if someone wanted to punish Israel (ie. on settlements)
4-The fear of Iran is universal, and all support the Iran Petroleum Sanctions Act,even if 2 of the Senators hadn't yet signed it.There are as of yesterday 51 co-signers.The 2 that I met with had - a problem with "the wording of the bill vis a vis WTO accords, b-wanting to give Obama some leeway.This bill would punish those who sell, ship etc petroleum to Iran,which only has 2 oil refineries.The rest is imported, making them very susceptible to economic pressure.
5-The left wing "pro-Israel" groups (K St. and IPF )were not considered as factors-too small.
FINALLY ON THE ISSUE OF SETTLEMENTS, BIBI STRESSED ANY CONCESSION MUST BE RECIPROCAL.SECONDLY WHAT AREA IS CALLED A SETTLEMENT?IN BIBIS EYES, SURELY NOT MAALE ADDUMIM, EFRAT ETC.