Some people like their own little shul, but I’ve always felt it’s better to have a strong shul," remarks Dr. Ben Chouake, president of the pro-Israel North Jersey Political Action Committee. The "shul" that is NORPAC, the largest and perhaps the most effective PAC of its kind in the country, is about to get even stronger when the similarly pro-Israel Hudson Valley Political Action Committee is folded into it during in the coming months. (Chouake, who lives in Englewood, is also a member of HUVPAC.)
According to HUVPAC’s president, Dr. Richard Kroll of Pomona, N.Y., its executive board met July 16, decided "to cease operations as an independent PAC, and committed ourselves to forming a subdivision of NORPAC."
HUVPAC, founded in Rockland County in 1983. is one of the older pro-Israel PACs in the United States, Kroll said. "We could have kept it alive," he added, but "we thought that by joining NORPAC , we could add to NORPAC," which he called "a very robust PAC."
He noted that while HUVPAC hosted events this year for four members of Congress Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) NORPAC, with some 3,000 to 4,000 active members, according to Chouake, hosted ‘5.
Regarding HUVPAC’s annual Wash-ington, D.C., trip to lobby Congress, Kroll said, "we’d be likely to get [enough people to fill only] one bus," despite the 1,000 members on its mailing list. But, he noted, the participants in NORPAC’s May mission, which he joined, filled ” buses.
That mission, Chouake said, "had several action items that have had a positive response from Congress. The first [participants lobbied for] was [for Congress] to fund an additional $150 million to the $’.4 billion for Israel in the foreign aid package, which this year had to go through special supplementary legislation because of the budgetary impasse." They also lobbied for Iran sanctions legislation, which, Chouake noted, "has been passed by the House of Representatives, the Senate Finance Committee, and the Senate Banking Committee. This legislation is expected to be voted on by the full Senate and should be implemented soon afterwards. It has been a banner year for our work on the hill, thanks to the thousands of member advocates that have participated in promoting our legislative agenda."
Kroll hopes that HUVPAC members "will embrace this new venue as they have the previous one because the mission is the same. America’s security and Israel’s survival depend on a close U.S.-Israel relationship, which benefits both countries . Support of Israel is very much in America’s interest."
Citing the jubilant welcome in Lebanon last week of convicted terrorist Samir Kuntar, released in a lopsided prisoner exchange with Israel, Kroll said, "When the enemies of Western civilization can glorify the murderer of Einat Haran, a 4-year-old girl, and her father, Danny, as a hero, that characterizes the nature of our [common] enemy better than anything we can possibly say."
Stressing the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship and the value of pro-Israel PACs, which contribute to the campaigns of incumbent candidates with pro-Israel records, he asked, "If Israel is isolated without the U.S., who votes with Israel in the U.N.? Micronesia? We are going to need friends in high places who will stand with us," particularly with regard to Iran’s anti-Israel stance. "These are people who have commitments" to Israel’s survival.
As for HUVPAC’s relationship with NORPAC, Kroll said, "We are encouraging our membership to no longer contribute to HUVPAC but to contribute to NORPAC." The group has a bank account of about $60,000, which it must "essentially zero out" before disbanding as an officially registered PAC, Kroll said. As it can only give $5,000 to NORPAC, according to Federal Election Commission rules, "we will have a few more events and write a few more checks," Kroll said. The group hopes to hold an event for Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) and may hold others for Reps. Elliott Engel (D-N.Y.) and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.).
And then, he said, "We hope to be an active part of NORPAC, a thriving, very successful, wonderful PAC . We are hoping to be known as the HUVPAC division of NORPAC."
Speaking for NORPAC, Chouake said, its "leadership welcomes this opportunity to have the Rockland County pro-Israel community within its ranks. We are optimistic that consolidating the efforts of our communities will make us stronger and more effective."