As we flew to Washington, D.C.
on Wednesday, I realized that this was it – the culmination of two years of
hard work. Beyond discussing Israel's history and current conflicts in
seminars, Write On for Israel is about effective advocacy for Israel. By
traveling to D.C., I could put my education to work and truly understand the
concrete impact lobbying has on political discourse.
We had four major issues on our agenda: Iran's nuclear program, the Syrian refugee crisis, military aid to Israel, and hunger and food-aid within the United States. In meeting with staff of U.S. representatives, we had several aims: To thank them for their support of the measures that we support and to ask questions to better understand their political motivations and how these motives might affect Israel in the future. We wanted to impart that American support of Israel not only helps Israel thrive, but also benefits America, both economically and politically.
Write On for Israel fellows in Washington D.C.
One of the key lessons I learned in D.C. was that it is okay to say "I don't know." The worst thing you can do in advocacy is convey false information: it deteriorates your credibility and delegitimizes your position. We do not need to be walking encyclopedias of Israel to advocate properly. Rather, we need confidence and passion for the issues.
JUF Vice President of Campus
Affairs John Lowenstein, who accompanied our delegation to Washington, told us,
"You belong here." A mentality of belonging is essential for
effective advocacy. Representatives work for the people; their doors are always
open to citizens who care about policy. As concerned citizens, we have a
democratic right to advocate for our beliefs. It is one of the factors that
make democracy in our country so successful.
Twelve hours after we arrived in Washington, we returned to Chicago knowing that we had succeeded. Through our lobbying efforts, we strengthened relationships with key influencers of the American political system. In keeping these connections strong, we helped to further solidify America's partnership with Israel.
David Dodelson is a Write On for Israel Senior Fellow and a senior at Evanston Township High School. Write On for Israel is a program of JUF’s Israel Education Center.