April 7 served as a meaningful and productive day on two fronts for the Yeshiva University High School for Boys (MTA) students who participated in the school’s annual lobbying mission to Washington D.C. The Hatzioni Club members who partook in this event had been preparing for weeks in advance by researching bills and familiarizing themselves with specific members of congress and their views of Israel. At Hillel International headquarters the students had the privilege of hearing from Ambassador Martin Peled-Flax, former Israeli Ambassador to Belarus and current Minister for Congressional Affairs at the Israeli Embassy in the United States.
Groups were divided into roughly six or seven members per senator or member of congress, and each had a faculty advisor guide them through the process. In addition to the member of the YUHSB faculty leading each group, there were two other group leaders, a senior and a junior who had previous lobbying experience. While the trip most certainly served as a wonderful chance to build upon certain skills such as public speaking, research and presentation, it did serve another purpose as well. Each student and faculty member was able to speak one-on-one with either a member of congress or an aide and get an entry to the world of politics.
The bills for which the students advocated—269, 615 and 619—discuss both the nuclear Iran crisis as well as a further progression in American-Israeli relations. The former topic spanned from imposing sanctions on Iran to negotiations that must be undertaken. The latter topic covered a completely different spectrum, in which students discussed cracking down on BDS, a movement dedicated to the demise of Israel, as well as furthering military aid and trade with Israel.
On Wednesday, the day before the trip, the MTA lobbyists heard from Shahar Azani, Executive Director of the North East Region of StandWithUs. Mr. Azani helped prepare the students for their mission.
By Shimmy Mandelbaum