On Thursday, December 9th,` I had the incredible opportunity to attend the opening plenary session of the Israeli American Council National Summit. It was an amazing experience to hear from many influential figures like the Ambassador of Israel to the United Nations Gilad Erdan and Knesset Member and Former Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. The speakers expressed different perspectives, and it was fascinating to see how such varying standpoints work almost seamlessly together to support one cause: the Jewish homeland. The feeling of being surrounded by 3,000 like-minded individuals who support the same cause you do is unparalleled. The sense of community was so strong at IAC, and that allowed for everyone to be open and receptive. This led to more effective Israel education.
Ambassador Erdan spoke about the rising tension with Iran and how the country can be prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons with a real military force to threaten the Iranian regime. He said that Israel won’t wait until Iran develops nuclear weapons to take action. He emphasized that Israel “will do whatever is needed” to protect itself. Erdan also commented on Ben & Jerry’s boycott of Judea and Samaria, calling it a “disgrace”. He led the fight against the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) movement which has failed to accomplish its goals. He said that Israel must continue to build resilience to these boycotts like it has in the past in order to thrive: “With the support of the IAC, we’re continuing to delegitimize the 'delegitimizers'".
Knesset Member and Former Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat also weighed in on the topic of Iran, as well as on the attempt to create a Palestinian Consulate in Jerusalem. Barkat emphasized that a nuclear Iran is a threat, not only to Israel but to the Western world as a whole. He thanked the policymakers who helped fight the “dangerous plan” of having a Palestinian Consulate in Jerusalem. He believes that having this consulate in Jerusalem would permanently divide the city, which would only hurt its residents.
Finally, IAC thanked and celebrated the Israeli Defense Forces’ National Rescue Unit, led by Col. Golan Vach, for their outstanding support and rescue efforts during the disastrous collapse of the Champlain Towers in Surfside. This part of the session was very moving, as these Israeli rescuers recounted their experiences of putting their lives on the line to save American citizens. This is the ultimate demonstration of the strength of our connection to Israel as Americans. Overall the IAC National Summit was an extremely meaningful event and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in Israel activism.
By: Dovid Leubitz (12th grade)