In 1939 when Germany and Russia invaded Poland, the Russians got control of the area where our family farm was located. My grandfather was sent to a Russian prison because he was a Jewish landowner. My grandmother bought his temporary freedom with 60,000 rubles. There was, however, no country willing to take in Jews, and when the German army moved east, only three members of a large family survived.
President Roosevelt decided not to rescue or provide safe haven for the Jews. The American Jewish community was politically ineffective and failed to make the case to our country’s leaders that might have saved the lives of millions of our brethren, including my family. We learned a bitter lesson about the lack of political empowerment.
President Truman almost made a similar decision not to recognize or support the creation of the State of Israel, and at first refused to meet with anyone in the Jewish community to discuss the issue. The Jewish leadership found a nondescript Jewish man, Eddie Jacobs, with whom Truman had once been a partner. Jacobs played his part, tearfully pleading for Truman to meet with Chaim Weizmann. Jacobs’ role seemed minor then; all he did was arrange another meeting. But Weizmann won over the president, and that meeting led to Truman’s historic decision to overrule one of our greatest secretaries of state, George Marshall (creator of the Marshall Plan), and usher in support of Israel as an American legacy.
Today the greatest danger to America and Israel is an emboldened Iran and its client agents Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas. Iran has an evil but brilliant despot promising a final solution for the Jews and working feverishly to obtain the means. If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, it will be able to do in one day what Hitler did in 1′ years. According to Middle East experts, the messianic nature of the Iranian leadership will preclude the concept of "mutually assured destruction" from working as a deterrent. When martyrdom and ascent to heaven is the goal, the use of these horrific weapons becomes likely even if it results in massive retaliation.
Norpac, a non-partisan political action committee, will go on a mission to Washington on May 9. We will ask Congress to pass legislation enforcing additional economic sanctions on Iran in an effort to stall its ability to finish its nuclear weapons project. We will reinforce our support for the current American policy echoed by every major presidential candidate, which maintains that a nuclear Iran is an unacceptable risk to world peace. We will also ask for continued and additional military support for Israel and for legislation to hasten energy independence.
Israel provides an immense source of pride and self-respect for Jews around the world. Israel also provides a safe haven. From Russia to Ethiopia to Arab lands to Europe, Jews have a homeland from which to escape oppression and pogroms. So think about what you actually do for Israel each year. What can you do to help assure the safety and security of the Jewish homeland — a once-in-a-millennium gift?
You can join us. Our mission chairman, Dr. Mort Fridman, has coordinated more than 400 meetings with members of Congress and their staff. Ninety percent of the Senate and 70 percent of the House will receive us. Please take one day from your other busy obligations to join us in Washington and let our nation’s leaders know you believe U.S.-Israel relations are of paramount importance. The chance the Norpac Mission Committee has created to address America’s national leadership is more than a lifetime opportunity — it is a life-saving opportunity. These missions have been instrumental in getting legislation passed that is vital to the long-term security of both America and Israel.
A common guideline among members of Congress is that certain activities are representative of the sympathies of constituents. A phone call represents 500 constituents, a letter 1,000 constituents, and every individual who makes a visit to Washington represents 10,000 constituents. In American politics, those who make the effort are heard. Many of these meetings result in long-term relationships. Each person who attends the mission is important far beyond his or her expectations.
We cannot all be Chaim Weizmann. But we can all play our part like Eddie Jacobs.
You may register through May ‘ online at www.norpac.net
or by calling Joel Davidson at (’01) 788-5133.
Dr. Ben Chouake is president of Norpac. He lives in Englewood.