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Copyright © 2019 The American Israel Public Affairs Committee

Israel Up Close: 10 Highlights from AIEF’s Largest Congressional Delegations to Israel

The best way to understand Israel is to experience Israel firsthand. Each year, members of Congress, congressional staff, policy experts and community leaders nationwide have that opportunity with the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), the charitable organization affiliated with AIPAC.

This August, 73 members of Congress traveled to Israel on the largest congressional delegation ever to participate on an AIEF mission.

These trips provide members of Congress the unparalleled opportunity to learn about our strategic ally, make connections with Israelis, and forge meaningful relationships across party lines. Below are ten highlights from this year’s trips:

1. Sharing their story

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy led a press conference at the King David Hotel where they affirmed strong bipartisan support for the U.S.-Israel relationship.

2. Learning about Israel's security challenges

Members of Congress visited an Iron Dome missile defense battery to discuss the U.S.-Israeli defense alliance and the security situation in Israel. This August, the U.S. Army announced its purchase of the Iron Dome system to help protect American troops.

3. Embracing political opposites

Republican and Democratic delegations had the opportunity to spend rare time together during two days of bipartisan programming. Along with learning about Israel and its people, members had the unique chance to learn about each other.

4. Exploring 21st century partnerships

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy tour a desalination plant. On their AIEF missions, Democratic and Republican members split into bipartisan focus groups to study specific areas of U.S.-Israel collaboration—like agriculture, cyber security, water, desalination and energy—where strategic relationships in Israel can have a meaningful impact in their home districts.

5. Meeting with Israeli, Palestinian and American Leaders

Members of Congress met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the leader of the Blue and White Party, Benny Gantz. They met with leadership from the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, including President Mahmoud Abbas and PLO Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat. They also met with U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

6. Learning about the nation and its people

Members learned about the archaeology of ancient Israel, biblical connections to the Israeli people, and the current events affecting modern-day Israeli society.

7. Visiting Judaism's holy sites

Members of Congress spent time in the Old City exploring some of the holiest sites in Judaism.

8. Visiting Christianity’s holy sites

The delegations visited two of the holiest and most significant sites in Christianity, the Church of Nativity and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

9. Touring the country

The congressional delegations hiked the ancient Masada fortress.

10. Exploring the history

Members learned about the 3,000-year Jewish connection to the land of Israel.

Type: News NERSummer2019