Posted on December 21, 2016
Comments Off on JCPA Israel Mission 2016: Overview and Reflections
JCPA concluded its latest mission to Israel. The purpose of the trip was to help the Jewish community become more nuanced advocates for Israel in the United States. Mission participants confronted issues of racial and gender equality, pluralism, freedom of religion, and the status of the two-state solution. JCRC Directors and JCPA staff shared their experiences which we invite you to read below. If you’d like to participate in future missions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
JCPA Israel Mission 2016:
Melanie Roth Gorelick, JCPA Senior Vice President
As American Jewry is grappling with how to deter delegitmization efforts against Israel and is experiencing polarization on how best to support the Jewish state, JCPA headed to Israel on its annual JCPA Israel Leadership Mission from December 4-11. The 20-person mission included eight Frank Fellows, five JCRC Directors, Board members, and JCPA staff. The goal of the mission was to help JCPA guide the community relations field to be nuanced advocates for Israel in the United States and provided us with an opportunity to share the view of the field with Israeli officials.
The mission focused on five thematic areas. These areas were chosen to help our local advocacy by seeing firsthand what was happening in Israel – both the challenges and gains. Through this experience, we can best help explain them and the complexity of Israel to those who could be influenced by anti-Israel voices. The areas included:
- racial and gender equality,
- pluralism and freedom of religion,
- current efforts for peace and a two-state solution,
- humanitarian support for Syrian victims,
What we saw was a vibrant, democratic, 70-year-old country with several challenges that are part of its growing pains:
- Israel is a democracy, where the Knesset, the courts, and the diverse populous, including Palestinians, have the freedom and support to advocate for the ideals they believe. Yet this can be frustrating as the population is one of the most diverse in the world and is made up of Jewish and other people from diverse cultures and countries coming to live together under one roof.
- It has managed disputed land that for too long has been considered occupied by parts of the international community. The land represents both the ancient land of Israel and the foundation of a future Palestinian state.
- It is dealing with the cost of needing strong security on its borders which has taken a toll on its domestic policy, education, and the lifestyle of its youth and broader population.
Some of the highlights of the trip include:
- Humanitarian values are put into practice. We visited the Ziv hospital and heard from NGOs working with Syrians injured in that country’s civil war. We also had the opportunity to meet with a number of Syrian patients. Israel’s help to those who have been historical enemies was very moving. The county has aided more than 2000 in the last two years. We also visited the Bialik-Rogozin School, which ensures the education of migrant and refugee children regardless of whether the parents are in the country legally. The school is educating 1000 students from 50 nations.
- Exploring efforts for peace while meeting with Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat in Ramallah, Knesset members, and foreign ministry officials. There seems to be a strong longing and support for achieving two-state status for two democracies, especially with worry about ISIS and war on the borders. Dangerous ideas do not need a passport. Although there is a pause, there is also recognition that final status should happen through negotiations. The majority of the Palestinian population are millennials. We also learned about increasing efforts of Palestinian and Israelis working together for peace.
- We also heard from a retired general who is working hard on a two-state solution plan that would have Israel implement all measures needed for a Palestinian state even before a peace deal is finalized.
- Meeting with Ethiopian leaders who are working with their community to integrate into Israeli society. They value education which they believe is the foundation for political power. While some are able to succeed, others have experienced racial bias, an issue that the country is committed to deterring. Additionally, women are also organizing in coalitions to help increase the number of women in elected positions throughout the country.
- While freedom of religion is flourishing for the non-Jewish community as we learned from conversations with Latin Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa and Lutheran leader Munib Younan, the issue of pluralism in Israel is currently under dispute. The movement for egalitarian prayer is working its way through the legislature, the court system, and is a major concern of the diaspora community.
- We witnessed the debate over removing the Amona settlement in the disputed area of the West Bank. Although the courts have found it illegal, the diversity of opinion about settlements is currently being debated in the Knesset. It was amazing to see it firsthand.
- We also visited Efrat and spoke with the mayor who shared his reality of trying to live in coexistence with Palestinian neighbors as well as work toward peace. We also visited with Roots, a grassroots coexistence project based on non-violence between settlers and Palestinian activists.
- We heard from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that we may have some challenges in our relationship as they believed the Israeli government may have better relations with the new U.S. administration than American Jews.
In conclusion, my takeaway after beginning my journey Poland, is that it is imperative to have a Jewish state, which is also a thriving democracy, even as we may currently agree and disagree with some of its domestic directions. While we must be allowed to talk about Israel’s strengths and weaknesses, we can continue to work in the U.S. to create relationships with those who can influence Palestinians and Israelis to build two states for two people living in peace, and to stand up to those who make false claims against Israel with the aim of seeing its demise. The visit has also strengthened my resolve that the community relations field must be bolstered to support Israel and participate on these missions. Our voice to the Israeli influencers are important and what we bring back home is even more important.
Here are some of the amazing quotes that we heard on the mission:
“If you love Israel because you hate Muslims, we don’t want your love,” – Michael Oren, MK
“Young Jews now are not just falling away, but they are going to lead the attack” against Israel – Yair Lapid, NK
“I don’t want my sons and grandkids to be suicide bombers” – Saeb Erekat
“I wanted to say I was Jewish, but I was nervous because I had never spoken to a white person,” – Rachamin Elazar, (Ethiopian Jew)
“Blast injurious are awful. Recognizing the human hand behind them has been difficult to come to grips with.” – Ziv physician, Dr. Michael Harari
“Nothing destroyed our society more than ineffective government.” – Dr. Uzi Arad, Israeli National Security
“As long as there is any woman in this country prevented from running for office because of her gender, I am not free.” – Hamutal Gouri: the Director of the Dafna Fund of NCJW.
“We have to have the courage to talk about peace.” – Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa,
“There are glimmers of hope, even in the greatest darkness” – Frank Fellow participant
Reflections From the Field
David Bernstein, JCPA President and CEO
We just returned from an inspiring JCPA leadership mission to Israel, and my head is still spinning. Participating in a high level JCPA mission can be a bit like plopping yourself in the middle of somebody else’s heated family dinner discussion. You hear familiar tropes. You instinctively agree with some comments and disagree with others. But you have this sinking feeling that you are missing critical context. You are not entirely sure what happened in previous family dinners that may have given rise to the dispute.
So it is with the complex discussions taking place in Israel. The longer you are in Israel the more you understand–and the more you know what you don’t know. Before you know it, you fit right in!
One such “Israeli family dinner” we were treated to was the Knesset discussion over the removal of a controversial West Bank outpost. We met with Knesset members and witnessed an impassioned Knesset debate. This was not the first time a JCPA delegation found itself in the middle of such a controversy.
Last year, when the JCPA delegation was in Israel, the issue de jure was the NGO bill, which would have applied stifling regulations on NGOs that receive a majority funding from outside Israel, namely Israeli human rights groups. Opponents told us that the bill was emblematic of the growing assault on Israel’s democracy. Many on the trip, myself included, were concerned. As with so many of these bills, however, the NGO bill became so watered down during the legislative process it ceased to do much of anything. Thankfully, reports of the death of Israel’s democracy were premature.
This year’s imminent threat was a bill that would provide retroactive legitimacy to settlements built on privately owned Palestinian land. It was sparked by a controversy over the West Bank outpost Amona, which the Israeli Supreme Court ruled was illegally built on Palestinian land and must be removed by December 25th.The legislation in its original form would have allowed the government to claim the land and compensate the owners, thereby effectively overruling the Supreme Court decision mandating Amona’s removal. Democracy advocates worried that the bill would undercut the authority of the Supreme Court. The legislation was eventually modified so that it applied to future situations, allowing the government to change the status of outposts without running afoul of the court. I am told the still pending legislation would be subject to numerous legal hurdles.
Meanwhile, I read a report that Israeli border police are rehearsing the imminent removal of settlers from Amona.
It can feel ominous to those of us who parachute into such a heated debate. We hear from activists who give us the worst-case scenario, and may feel that the fate of Israel’s democracy stands on the precipice while we are sitting helplessly in the Knesset. Having heard such dire prognostications in the past, it can sound like the boy who cried wolf. Be that as it may, there are indeed right wing forces attempting to weaken Israeli democratic norms and, absent a serious counter-effort, the wolf may eventually make its dreaded appearance.
In the face of efforts to weaken liberal democracy, can one be vigilant and resolute, without becoming overwrought? I hope so. That might be precisely the mindset we need in confronting the current American political challenges as well.
JCPA missions do not shy away from such controversies. There’s not a point of view that you won’t hear. You talk to the players who are conducting the discussion and setting the course. You talk to the people who wish they were but aren’t, but might in the future. You become inspired, angry and confused, all at the same time!
Speaking of dinner discussions, the food and wine in Israel have become really, really good. It’s as if Israelis took all of that dynamic creativity, combined with equal parts eastern and western culture, and put it on a plate. We had many a memorable meal.
When you return from a JCPA mission, you will be not only be well fed, you will be a more thoughtful and nuanced advocate for the Jewish state, able to translate your experience in the American context.
So here’s an early invitation: Join the JCPA for dinner in December or January (specific dates forthcoming) in Israel! You will return hungry for more.
Carol Brick-Turin, JCRC Director, Miami and President of JCRC Association
Toward the end of our Leadership Mission, a colleague asked me if I thought there would be peace between Israel and her neighbors within ten years. However, my timeframe for thinking about a potential peace agreement is not ten years, but rather 14, for that is when my oldest granddaughter will be joining the IDF. I was saddened to acknowledge that I believe we might not witness peace by then. It was a reminder to myself that I view Israel through a very personal lens. It is a part of my past and future, having raised my children as Zionists, and having one of whom has chosen to make Israel her home. While Israel’s politics and policies remain complex at best, it is through this intimate connection – my individual narrative – that I most authentically relate to the land and its people. An authenticity that I hope will be conveyed to our JCRC constituents in Miami – Jews and non-Jews alike, as I was saddened, heartened, impressed, inspired, angered, disappointed and hopeful all in one trip.
There is a meeting of the minds between Israel and Diaspora Jewry when it comes to the paramount importance of keeping Israel’s citizenry safe and secure (U.S. funding of military equipment, shared intelligence, etc.). However, during times of relative peace and political calm, when Israelis have the luxury of focusing on domestic issues, some of the greatest rifts between U.S. Jews and Israelis bubble to the surface. I was saddened by the disconnect I saw between the priorities of Diaspora Jews and Israelis on matters of pluralism, such as marriage, conversion and egalitarian prayer; by the undermining of Judicial review; and by the underbelly of poverty, crime and immigrant population disparities.
And yet, I was heartened by the numerous, complicated and introspective conversations taking place throughout the country in board rooms and living rooms over how to improve civic society. This was brought into focus during meetings with Dr. Uzi Arad, whose Grand Strategy Group focuses on key domestic challenges facing Israel, and with the Israeli Democracy Institute, whose work explores how, and if, the state of Israel can remain both Jewish and democratic in the coming years.
I was impressed by Tel Aviv’s Bialik Rogozin school, a facility dedicated to educating 1,300 children of refugees and migrants in Israel from over 50 countries; by the Ethiopian National Project’s work with leadership, empowerment and activism; and by WePower’s initiative to increase gender diversity in Israel’s government by activating the untapped political and organizational power of Israeli women. I am proud that our Federation supports the latter two.
I was enormously inspired by Dr. Michael Harari during a visit to Ziv hospital in Safed. There, in the medical facility comprised of Jews, Arabs and Muslims, Syrians horrifically injured mostly by blast wounds from mines or rocket fire in the civil war since 2013 are treated, and just 30 kilometers away, IDF forces bring humanitarian aid to those severely injured at Syria’s border.
And while I was angered by Saeb Erekat’s blatant duplicity and disappointed by discussion of various MK’s intransience, I was heartened by the reality of Israeli-Palestinian people-to-people programs; Jews and Arabs living side-by-side in Efrat; and NGO’s such as Shorashim (Roots), promoting Jewish-Arab co-existence in the heart of the West Bank.
The willingness by Israeli’s to have complex conversations, to debate its flaws (and scandals), to expose its warts, unlike any other country in the Middle East, is wonderful, but not conducive to endearing itself on the international stage or to winning the PR war. And therein lies the rub. Legal arguments about land rights and borders, such as those brilliantly provided by Eugene Kontorovich, and nuanced conversations about complex issues are fairly ineffective when others, such as proponents of BDS, speak in sound bites. It is my role as a JCRC director to facilitate both the nuanced conversations, as well as the more abbreviated approach. The mission helped me to do just that.
It was not until I left Israel and had some distance did I really appreciate the depth to which I am connected to the land of my future, my children’s children. And so I return to my personal narrative.
I have hope when my four-year old granddaughter, a product of the public pre-school system, tells me she’s been excited about eating sufgoniot “ever since [the month of] Elul”, or when she observes that the laundry piled on the bed looks like tohu va vohu (the description in Genesis of the earth as formless and empty), or when I hear that the words wafting through the air as she sings to herself in her play corner are V’shamru v’nei Yisrael et HaShabbat (The people of Israel shall keep Shabbat). I know her thinking has been nurtured in a very Jewish way.
I have hope when attending Shabbat services in my daughter’s synagogue in Jerusalem, where some women wear talitot (prayer shawls) and some wear traditional mitpachot (head scarves); with both a mechitza (partition) dividing men from women and women chanting Torah for all. No judgements. Shalom Bayit (peace of the home).
When Israel is threatened, so am I. It’s my Torah, my history, my land, my people. And without a strong America, Israel is less secure. We are inextricably linked, even with our dysfunctional reality. After all, which family isn’t?
As we near the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War, the mission certainly helped crystallize how to counter the narrative of the Nakba and to underscore the importance of celebrating Jerusalem’s reunification, the glory of our democratic Jewish state – its history, values, and future. And, G-d willing, to find a way for my family and all of ours, to move closer to a peace agreement in the next 14 years.
Bob Horenstein, JCRC Director, Portland
This was an in-depth exploration of the issues facing the state of Israel; the comprehensive itinerary reflected that. Two main thoughts come to mind. At a time when so many of us are dealing with the negativity of the BDS movement in our home communities, it was empowering to visit both the Bialik-Rogozin School for the children of migrant workers and Ziv Hospital in Tzefat, where injured Syrian children and adults are receiving life-saving medical treatment. Not to sound to dramatic, but these two visits, for me, encapsulated the image of Israel as a light among the nations.
On the less positive side, the advancing of the “Amona” bill (we were at the Knesset as the debate took place), which would essentially legalize many of the unauthorized outposts, seems to run contrary to Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution. Such actions complicate our efforts here in the US to make the case for Israel as a nation striving for peace. In our meetings, e.g., with the Foreign Ministry, while I got the sense that the Israelis very much appreciate our advocacy efforts here, there is a lack of recognition of the impact Israeli decisions/policies can have on the work we do, especially in countering BDS.
Overall, this was a meaningful trip and I feel privileged to have joined all of you.
Lori Fein, JCRC Director, Northern New Jersey
Darwin taught that the survival of species depends on its ability to adapt and change. Our people hardly needed this reminder, as the Torah from beginning to end is a tale of drastic changes unified by an enduring faith in eternal truths. The history of the Jewish people is a case study in survival through adaptation.
This cultural tradition is daily renewed in our homeland of Israel. Change is everywhere in evidence. Many changes are physical: modernized layouts of ancient cities and construction of brand new ones, new modes of transportation bringing people closer together and opening possibilities for human connection, security barriers built and removed. Likewise cultural changes abound, from the evolving possibilities for women and immigrants, to legal and social gains for religious pluralism, to growing efforts to build bridges of understanding that give hope for peaceful resolutions to age-old challenges. Having had a gap of several years since my prior visit, the differences were especially stunning.
This mission was a crash course in understanding, supporting, and promoting positive change. Fully processing the deluge of information will take time, indeed will inspire months and years of programming in our home communities. In the wealth of possibilities, though, certain experiences made an especially deep impression. No doubt for many of us our day focusing on Syrian refugees carved eternal grooves in our souls. Dr. Harari’s stirring emotional account of the medical and social issues was only surpassed by the tour of the ICU, where we witnessed firsthand the mangled and missing limbs of this long war’s young casualties. This gut-punch was complemented by the briefing from Lt. Col. Marco Moreno and the visit to the Syrian border, which served as a master class in the complicated political, military, financial and logistical stars that must align for this humanitarian mission to take place. Israel’s commitment to the effort despite these hurdles exemplifies the twin Israeli ethos of overcoming impossible odds and serving as a light unto nations, needed more than ever in Syria’s darkest hour.
Another inspiring event was our evening with WePower. In certain ways Israel is ahead of the US in terms of female empowerment, female heads of state and fighter pilots just two examples that stand out. Yet, as here, the road to full equality is still under construction. Israelis consistently impress me with their ability to marry potent criticism with genuine optimism and practical solutions. Michal Yudin would be impressive for creating a groundswell of support alone, but instead has created a ground-game worthy of the cause. The specificity of her program to identify and support female candidates could be a model for our own efforts.
The mission events addressing Arab-Jewish relations were more mixed. One could not help but be impressed by Rawabi, reminiscent of Disneyland in its perfectly planned details and marketing. How hopeful we should be that Palestinians have constructed such a beautiful city, created jobs, and subsidized housing prices so that a better life is accessible to more people! Yet the empty apartments and unpopulated streets tell a sadder tale, one surely more complex than our guide chose to reveal, of Palestinian Authority leaders once again missing an opportunity. The meeting with Saeb Erekat depressed me in his choice to maintain a false narrative blaming Israel for all Palestinian problems (even invoking the “apartheid” canard) rather than engage all available resources to better Palestinian lives. It is unfortunate we did not meet Ali Abu Awwad as planned, for his efforts may be more limited, but are surely more hopeful and ultimately will yield more fruit.
There were so many more fascinating meetings and topics, so relevant to the work we do every day, and I look forward to covering them in future posts. For now must simply applaud the ever innovative, humane and evolving society our people has created in the brief blip of history since Israel came to exist. I am so grateful to live in these times. While there is more to achieve, this trip made abundantly clear that change is possible, even if slow, and that the Jewish people will never give up on changing the world to reflect our eternal ideals.
Karen Elam, CR Director, Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester, New York
As my fellow JCPA mission travelers learned, this was my first trip to Israel. I was no stranger to Jewish communal work, having spent a decade working at Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps, but I had never felt the pull to go to Israel, perhaps because I perceived it to be out of reach: too costly, too complicated, and – perhaps – too risky.
Now, new to the field of community relations, I was delighted to be offered the opportunity to participate in the JCPA mission. What I experienced went beyond what I could have imagined. I know this is just the first step on the path toward becoming a better, more nuanced advocate for Israel. Kudos and much gratitude to the JCPA staff for putting together such a high quality, challenging mission.
Here are some highlights of the trip, where “it’s complicated” quickly became our mantra.
The State of the Two-State Solution
While many of our speakers emphasized their support of the two-state solution, it was disheartening that dialogue between the two sides has been stalled for so long. And while I enjoyed the feeling of relative calm and safety (at no time did I feel concern), there was a sense of being in a lull, though hopefully not a calm before the storm.
We heard from Vice Admiral (retired) David Ben-Bashat on a nonpartisan vision of a “Security First” approach to the two-state solution; we had the opportunity to travel to Ramallah and a new Palestinian city, Rawabi, with Israeli public radio journalist Gal Berger; we met with Saed Erekat, Fatah’s chief negotiator and co-architect of the 1993 Oslo Accords; and we heard
from Dr. Nader Said-Foqahaa, a Palestinian pollster, who shared some of the major findings of recent polls, including:
- 74% of Palestinians said they would favor dissolving the PLO if the occupation ended
- 50% of Palestinians cited “cost of living” as their chief concern, only 30% the “occupation”
- 49% of Palestinians said that a two-state solution is “a good idea”
- 48% of Palestinians said they were “optimistic” about the future
Humanitarian Assistance for Syrians, and a School for Refugee Children
Two of the high points of the trip were visits to a medical center in Tzfat treating Syrians wounded in the civil war and to a school for children of refugees and migrant workers in Tel Aviv.
The Ziv Medical Center sits just 19 miles from the Syrian border. A little less than four years ago, the trauma team at this 331-bed hospital was called in to treat seven wounded Syrians. This was a first: the staff had never treated “the enemy” before, and the Syrians had never received treatment from “the enemy”. Today, more than 700 Syrian patients have received care at Ziv Medical Center, brought there under cover of night from the border by the IDF. The cost of caring for the Syrians has been roughly $5 million, which has been almost entirely funded by the Israeli government.
On the other side of the country in Tel Aviv is the Bialik-Rogozin School, a 1st to 12th grade school dedicated to educating the children of refugees and migrants in Israel, including guest workers, new immigrants, refugees from Darfur, and Israeli born families living at or below the poverty level. The vision of the school is to provide all students with a wide array of opportunities to develop their potential. With more than 1,000 students from over 50 nations, the school has been highly successful: over 92% matriculate, far above the general Israeli population, and 43% obtain an Israeli ID. With this they are able to join the IDF, and many go on to have highly successful careers.
In an hour-long meeting the mayor of Efrat, Oded Revivi, spoke about the settlement, which has intentionally not expanded into privately owned land, leading to harmonious relations between Jews and Arabs in the region. Furthermore, he noted that there is no security fence separating the different populations. When Jewish residents leave Efrat to go to work in Jerusalem, he explained, over 1,000 Arab workers enter the town, and there have never been problems.
The mayor shared a story about a traffic accident involving a resident of Efrat who accidently ran over a six-year-old Palestinian girl, who was killed. The mayor visited the family in the village of El Hado to share his condolences. This provided the opportunity to not only to speak with the family but also to meet the mayor of El Hado and ultimately to install, at the request of the mayor, speed bumps to prevent similar accidents in the future. Revivi also shared that for Sukkot this year he invited the family of the deceased girl to his sukkah, along with other Palestinian neighbors. Unfortunately, four of the Palestinians were subsequently arrested by the PLO for attending the event.
Shorashim, or Roots, is a local nonprofit actively promoting Jewish-Arab coexistence. The program operates on a piece of property located two minutes outside of Efrat, where we met with one of the directors, Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger, an Orthodox rabbi and settler who has lived in the West Bank for three decades. (Unfortunately, Ali Abu Awwad, former militant turned nonviolent peace activist and one of the other directors of the program, was unable to join us.) Through projects, dialogue groups, and workshops engaging Israelis and Palestinians, Roots endeavors to lay the groundwork for a reality in which future agreements between the two governments can be built. To date over 13,000 individuals have participated in Roots programming.
Pluralism, Diversity, and Minority Rights
There were multiple opportunities to discuss the issues of pluralism and diversity in Israel. These included meetings with members of the Ethiopian National Project; staff of the Israel Democracy Institute; and Jewish and Christian leaders. Some of the key points that emerged from a panel discussion at the Israel Democracy Institute included:
- Israeli society has become increasingly less empathetic to other points of view. When Israelis were asked whether the Jewish and democratic aspects of Israel were in the right balance or unduly tilted one way or the other the results were stark and shifted significantly across religious lines, with Haredi Israelis overwhelming thinking Israel was too democratic and conservative, and secular Jews thinking Israel was too religious.
- Roughly 300 to 400 people convert to Reform or Conservative Judaism in Israel every year. Over time, activists have managed to crack open government services for religious denominations other than the Orthodox and Haredi. For example, the deal for egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall was reached after years of negotiations; unfortunately, the Ultraorthodox pulled out at the last minute and Netanyahu is now stalling.
Israel and the Diaspora
Several meetings touched on the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora. General Akiva Tor, Head of the Bureau for World Jewish Affairs and World Religions, painted a broad picture of Israel’s domestic and international situation. He noted that Israel today was surrounded by failed states or states teetering on the brink of failure. The situation in the West Bank was precarious due to Mahmoud Abbas’ age and relative weakness outside his own narrow base of power. In the US, he suggested that a Trump-Netanyahu relationship could drive Democrats away from Israel and force Democratic Jews into a choice between Israel and all of their other values.
MK Yair Lapid stressed the following points:
- He was genuinely concerned about American Jews, noting that “young Jews now are not just falling away, but they are going to lead the attack” against Israel.
- He described bilateral peace talks as a waste of time. Instead he called for regional negotiations involving Egypt, Jordan and others.
- He was adamant in his support of egalitarian prayer and said if he were prime minister, the issue would be resolved immediately.
MK Michael Oren made the following points:
- He defended the 1967 war (which he has written about extensively) saying that many of the positive developments that have come to Israel (and the Palestinians) since have been a direct result of the conflict, including peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan and a more stable Middle East over all.
- He said BDS was a problem on college campuses but apathy was worse.
- He also expressed his support for egalitarian prayer but, unlike Lapid, said it was politically impossible and that Lapid would never be able to form a government without Haredi parties.
In summary, the JCPA Mission of December 2016 was a phenomenal opportunity for learning and networking, providing me with tools and resources to more effectively serve as advocate and ambassador for Israel, and enlarging my understanding of the complex and complicated relationship that exists between the State of Israel and diaspora Jewry. As noted above, it is just the first step on what I expect will be a long path of discovery and action.