Israel Advocacy Two Ways
Israel advocacy comes in many forms, and this past month I had the privilege of participating in two very different but equally important forms of it.
Meeting with Rep. John Yarmuth
In light of recent activities of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, both in Washington and back in Israel, we felt it important to reach out to our local Congressional leadership to discuss Iran, Israel and our concerns that an agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program and prevent it from obtaining the ability to produce a nuclear weapon is comprehensive and absolute.
As many of us know, Rep. John Yarmuth was highly critical of the Prime Minister’s appearance before Congress and did not attend his speech.
A group of us met with Rep. Yarmuth in his office for just such a discussion. In our conversation, we expressed our expectation that a deal with Iran contain necessary safeguards and checks to verify compliance with a deal to limit their nuclear program. Rep. Yarmuth expressed his confidence that the deal currently under discussion will accomplish all the goals we share … that Iran will not be in a position to weaponize their nuclear program.
He further expressed his dismay that relations between Israel and the U.S. have become a bit strained and politicized in light of Netanyahu’s visit to Congress, and he is confident that relations between our two countries are, and will be, strong.
Rep. Yarmuth also expressed his regret for a statement he made regarding any undue influence AIPAC may have over Congress.
While we may not always agree with our elected leaders, particularly on Israel, our JCRC will continue our dialogue with them, hold them accountable when we feel their words and actions are incongruent with the views and values of the Jewish community, and express our support and thanks to them when we feel they are acting in our community’s best interests.
Israeli Artist in Louisville
This past month, we were honored to host Ada Flor, an artist from Kibbutz Ein HaMifratz in our Partnership2Gether region of Israel, the Western Galilee. This kibbutz is very special because of its unique industry – the production of cardboard.
As an artist, one of Ada’s specialties is transforming some of the cardboard produced on the kibbutz and tailoring it for art projects. Ada took these projects to our JCC Early Learning Center and worked with the kids on producing cardboard doves, which the children then colored and decorated. It was a great experience for the preschoolers to be exposed to Israel, Israelis and art. It was also great for Ada to meet with our children.
Israel advocacy is not just about traditional lobbying efforts (as when we meet with our elected leaders), political discourses and persuasion or op-eds in newspapers. It is also about people-to-people contact, not colored by politics, exposing as many average Louisvillians to average Israelis as possible, to learn about our many differences and our many more similarities.
This is the wonderful thing about our participation with Partnership, the connections we make and the often time lifelong friendship that come of it.
Terry Taylor Retires
This month, a longtime friend of the Jewish community and our Louisville interfaith community, Terry Taylor, has retired from his position as executive director of Interfaith Paths to Peace, a Louisville peacemaking organization with which we have worked on many initiatives, most notably, the annual Hunger Walk. He also played an integral role in the Dalai Lama’s appearance here in Louisville three years ago.
It is quite evident that peacemaking and interfaith understanding are not just a job for Terry, but a passion and a life mission. Terry has always been a friend of the Jewish community, and we were thrilled that we were able to honor him with an award and gift at our most recent Interfaith Chanukah party. I hope our paths cross again.
We will miss him profoundly, but we wish him many more years of happiness and success in whatever he chooses to fill his time.