Chicagoans focus on Middle East issues during DC Fly-In

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Twenty Chicago Jewish community leaders traveled on a JUF/Jewish Federation mission to the nation’s capital this week to meet with key foreign policy advisors and elected officials. 

The group consisted of JUF/JF Board members and others in various leadership roles, including Michael Zaransky, 2013 JUF General Campaign Chairman, and Keith Shapiro, Chair of Trades, Industries & Professions (TIP) for JUF.  Heading the group were lay leaders Alison Mitchell and Jay Prystowsky.

The visit began with a discussion of Middle East policy and recent events in Libya, Egypt, Iran, and elsewhere with Ambassador Nicholas Burns and Lord George RobertsonA private, after-hours tour of the Capitol with Congressman Bob Dold capped the first evening of the trip. 

Also providing briefings were Eli Groner, Israeli Minister for Economic Affairs for the Israeli Embassy; Aaron Zelin and Patrick Clawson from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Jarrod Bernstein, director of Jewish Outreach, The White House; and Danielle Borrin, director of Intergovernmental Affairs for Vice President Joe Biden.

Participants finished the trip on Capitol Hill, meeting with key foreign policy staff for Senators Durbin and Kirk and holding a reception with the Illinois members of Congress, including Representatives Robert Dold, Randy Hultgren, Judy Biggert, Mike Quigley, Jan Schakowsky, and Ted Deutch. 

“The influential leaders and experts we met with on Middle East policy demonstrated the access that the Jewish Federation has in Washington,” Mitchell said.

Jay Prystowsky summed up the trip this way, “In less than 24-hours, we increased our knowledge of foreign policy by meeting with the key experts and decision makers writing and implementing the policy. It was a great day.” 

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