WASHINGTON – At the end of the longest day of the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, over 100 people chose to attend one last plenary session.
The Israeli American Council, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit, started seven years ago with the goal of keeping Israelis living in the US cohesive and active as a community, despite moving out of the homeland.
Today the council has between 150,000 and 200,000 active members. It has two goals: support Israel no matter what – “We accept Israel the way it is,” said board member Adam Milstein. “We don’t make conditions that Israel be this way or that way. No questions asked.” – and make sure the next generation of Israeli children feel connected to their homeland.
Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor spoke briefly at the gathering on Monday and lauded the council for its efforts. “The whole idea of the IAC is to be a bridge,” he said.
“I feel privileged to stand before you today and say thank you for standing to preserve what is so dear to you and to me.”
Prosor also thanked it for “moving away from the balcony, like Statler and Waldorf in The Muppet Show,” and getting involved in the community.
“I’m happy that the IAC is beginning to take roots in the US, because it’s clear it strengthens the Jewish identity, the Israeli side in Jewish American communities, and it strengthens the next generation,” he said.
Shawn Evenhaim, chairman of the Israeli American Council, expressed his pride that it had expanded so rapidly in seven years. “Israelis don’t know how to live in the Diaspora,” Evenhaim said, recalling that when he moved from Israel to LA, “it was all new.”
Gesturing at the double- width conference room that had to be opened up to accommodate all the attendees at Monday’s meeting, Evenhaim said that “our goal is to take a room much bigger than this at AIPAC next year.”
Evenhaim told The Jerusalem Post that Israeli American Council board members would be meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday evening to discuss how the council could further coordinate with the Israel government.
“We’ll talk about how we can help in America and how we can help the government work in the Diaspora,” he said.
Of particular importance would be how the council can help “bring the Israeli experience to the American Jewish community,” without necessarily sponsoring trips to Israel