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insight

Friends,

An impressive show of force from AIPAC this week included an unprecedented break from its previously stated policy: Full support for the policies of the Israeli government. We've seen this stand whittled away but never has Israel been so blatantly provoked as this week when its executive director called for a palestinian state to be established.

This departure from support for Israel's democratically elected government is not a glitch in policy, but a wake up call for all of us: AIPAC may be a powerful voice on the Hill but it is not one that consistently can be relied on to reflect the wishes of the people of Israel. PM Netanyahu is the longest-serving leader in our history, with record-breaking support in elections here.

We applaud those who support Israel. We are grateful to those who speak out against bias, mistruths and distorted reports. We have enough detractors in this world that we know to appreciate those who stand up for what's right. This should not be confused with blanket support for positions taken by AIPAC, a leading US voice for Israel. The organization that was slow to take up the Iran case, ignored the push for recognition of Jerusalem and now calls for peace plans that contradict the Israeli government - must be careful when it poses as the pro-Israel voice in the US. We are grateful for all they do, and take with a grain of salt the recent week-long gathering that provided some, not all, food for thought on issues pertinent for Israel today. See this and other reports on Israeli government ministers trying to fill in what AIPAC has left out.

In a meeting with AIPAC donors and American political leaders this week, Israel's Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked stressed the importance of mainstreaming what is wrongly referred to as 'settler' positions, bringing them further into the political fold. It’s “very important that the AIPAC delegation also tour these areas of Israel, including on AIPAC missions to Israel; such trips are the bread and butter of AIPAC’s educational non-profit arm, as AIPAC claims 62 percent of sitting members of Congress have visited Israel on such trips." Minister Shaked has hosted our Yes! Israel missions and has been very supportive of our efforts to bring all issues, in person and without borders or predisposition. At the meeting Shaked said, she “explained that the Israeli government, the Jewish Home and much of the Likud parties think that a Palestinian state will be a failed state, and Judea and Samaria is part of our homeland."

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Tariffs on aluminum are at the fore of American media headlines today. Your economic debate rages, and has a vital effect on the international arena. Here in Israel, we're focused on global military threats, and have watched Prime Minister Netanyahu return to the Iran-is-dangerous mantra in numerous meetings in Washington this week. We urge you to take a side bar from important questions of economics and fiscal policy, to raise your voices on behalf of what you've heard from us and others - Responsible foreign policy and a strong, historic friendship mean that the US should not dictate to Israel what is best for us.

Allow Israel to make its own decisions, and support those choices, working together to strengthen our moral and security decisions. AIPAC and others do important work in presenting the issues and trying to educate the public. But do not mistake this for the true voice of the Israeli people. Choose to go straight to the source, use introductions that we have made for you, ask questions, debate the complexities of an Israeli democracy (i.e. Our own police detaining visitors on Temple Mount from 'changing the status quo' and taking an olive leaf!), but know this: Israel, and only Israel, is responsible for the welfare of our people - and only Israel will protect its citizens and decide what's good for ourselves.

We would expect no less.

Yours,
Ruthie

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