Dear Representative Ilhan Omar,
Op-Ed by Ari Hart
In a few weeks I'll be attending the AIPAC convention in DC.
I'll be joined by thousands of other Americans from all kinds of political, religious, geographic and ethnic backgrounds. These thousands of Americans will reflect the tens of millions of Americans, the vast majority of Americans, who support our alliance with Israel.
These tens of millions are reflected by the vast majority of elected officials, on both sides of the aisle, who support our alliance with Israel and seek to strengthen it. It's not because of "the Benjamins" or because they were "hypnotized" (your unfortunate words) but because of the millions of American citizens who understand our shared values and shared strategic interests with Israel and voted accordingly.
Values, strategy, collaboration - that's the work of AIPAC and that's what we will be learning about and advocating in March.
I invite you to join us!
Bring your questions, your challenges, your concerns.
Come dialogue and learn about the realities that Israel faces on the ground. You clearly have thought about the issue a lot, but it seems like you are getting your information from very select sources that do not reflect the complexity and nuance necessary to really understand what is going on.
Come and have the opportunity to clear up some obvious misconceptions you have (for starters, AIPAC specifically does not give money to candidates...)
Come and join so many of us who, as Zionists who believe in a people's right to self-determination in their homeland, naturally support Palestinian
self-determination in a Palestinian state.
Come and join so many of us who may be critical of actions of the Israeli government, just as we are critical of actions of the US government, but understand the difference between criticism and de-legitimacy. After all, I'm sure you are no fan of the current US administration, but that does not mean that you think the US should cease to exist (as those who support BDS, which you seem to, do).
Though I don't speak for AIPAC, I do extend this invitation in all sincerity. There is a lot to talk about and to learn, and those of us who support Israel also always need to learn, be challenged and hear new perspectives.
And if you don't decide to make it, perhaps I can convince AIPAC to send me on the lobbying day to engage in the democratic process and dialogue with you in your office!
Rabbi Ari Hart