The Launch of the Israel Allies Caucus in the 113th Congress
Washington - Thirty Members of Congress, including several freshmen, joined leaders from the Jewish and Christian communities on Capitol Hill last week for a reception hosted by the Israel Allies Foundation. The reception was held to mark the launch of the bipartisan Congressional Israel Allies Caucus in the new Congress, a caucus that has existed since 2006 and remains the only bipartisan pro-Israel caucus in the United States Congress. The Israel Allies Caucus was formed seven years ago to promote bipartisan support for Israel and it has succeeded in that mission, year after year, by attracting Members who understand how important it is that Israel remains a bipartisan issue.
Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), founding Democrat co-Chair of the Israel Allies Caucus, addressed the crowd and pointed to the Palestinian’s refusal to recognize the Jewish State as a fundamental barrier to peace. Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) touted that despite Israel’s many challenges “Israel is still the toughest kid on the block” – a remark that received loud applause from the 100 plus guests in attendance. Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) addressed the grave importance of the Iron Dome project and warned that the looming sequestration cuts could endanger funding to critical defense projects like the Iron Dome missile defense system, which saved the lives of countless Israeli civilians during last year’s Pillar of Defense operation.
The Congressional Israel Allies Caucus was founded by former Congressman Dave Weldon, a Republican from Florida and Evangelical Christian, and Congressman Eliot Engel, a Jewish Democrat from New York, to foster not only bipartisan ties, but also to demonstrate that the Judeo-Christian values that bind Americans trump partisan politics. That was the resounding message at the Caucus Reception, as Democrats and Republicans from all over the United States, from across the political spectrum, gathered to show that when it comes to Israel the United States House of Representatives speaks in one voice. As the threats to Israel continue to mount in the Middle East, this message of a united front in Congress serves as a potent deterrent to Israel’s enemies. As distinguished guest at the reception, Barukh Binah, Israel’s Deputy Chief of Mission in Washington, put it: “Israel and the U.S. stand together, and everyone in the Middle East knows it."
The mission of the Foundation behind the Caucus, the Israel Allies Foundation (IAF), is to strengthen the Israel Allies Caucus in the U.S. and 20 Caucuses scattered around the world.
“We at the Israel Allies Foundation believe that the best thing for Israel is a strong, united U.S. Congress that speaks in one voice in support of Israel,” stated IAF Executive Director Willem Griffioen.
As such, the IAF encourages Members to reach across the aisle on Israel issues. The IAF works with Congress on broad consensus, bipartisan initiatives like recognizing undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital and relocating the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. While other organizations in D.C. have had a polarizing effect on the debate in Washington, pitting Democrats against Republicans, and incentivizing Members of Congress to abandon their traditional support of Israel, the Israel the Israel Allies Foundation seeks to build on the Judeo Christian values that each of the Caucus Members share.
“Being pro-Israel is an American value, founded firmly in this country’s rich Judeo-Christian heritage… the U.S. was rightly the first country to recognize Israel in 1948 and today there are an unprecedented number of Americans - Democrats, Republicans, Jews and Christians - involved in pro-Israel organizations,” stated IAF Director of Outreach, Jordanna McMillan. That was the resounding message at the event as spiritual leaders from various Jewish and Christian denominations and organizations mingled with pro-Israel Members of Congress, all answering the same call to stand up for the Jewish State of Israel.
By Enia Krivine, Director of Congressional Affairs