The im­por­tance of check­ing in

For new AIFL pres­i­dent, fos­ter­ing Is­rael sup­port should be grass­roots en­deavor that stretches be­yond Wash­ing­ton

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By NOA AMOUYAL

Like any good physi­cian, it’s not enough to just lis­ten to a pa­tient’s needs and then ad­min­is­ter treat­ment. True A+ ser­vice in­volves check­ing in on them af­ter­ward to make sure all is well.

Joel Klein, who was re­cently ap­pointed pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can Is­rael Friend­ship League, be­lieves Is­rael ad­vo­cates should adopt this very ap­proach when host­ing for­eign del­e­ga­tions.

“You got to de­velop a com­mit­ted con­stituency of pan-Amer­i­can sup­port. You need to make them knowl­edge­able, com­mit­ted and in­volved,” the pro-Is­rael think tank of­fi­cial ex­plained. “We know from peo­ple ex­posed to Is­rael that they have these on-the-ground ex­pe­ri­ences which have a trans­for­ma­tive ef­fect. We need to lever­age that,” he said.

That trans­lates to not only court­ing these del­e­ga­tions, which come from all over the United States, but to cre­at­ing an ex­pe­ri­ence that makes Is­rael a place that these del­e­ga­tion mem­bers would want to come to with their fam­i­lies. In other words, Is­rael should go be­yond be­ing a spe­cial in­ter­est in Wash­ing­ton and, in­stead, be part of one’s com­mu­nity.

“We need to co­a­lesce a strong and pow­er­ful grass­roots com­mu­nity in the US that would be sup­port­ive of the work done in Is­rael,” he said.

Some ex­am­ples of AIFL del­e­ga­tions that aim to do just that in­clude a group of lo­cal pas­tors and Chris­tian ed­u­ca­tors from Dal­las, Texas, who are slated to visit Is­rael in mid-Au­gust, and a group of chief in­no­va­tion of­fi­cers com­ing in Oc­to­ber to learn from the Start-Up Na­tion. These del­e­ga­tions are not only ef­fec­tive in so­lid­i­fy­ing US-Is­raeli ties, but also in thwart­ing the Boy­cott, Di­vest­ment and Sanc­tions move­ment, a phe­nom­e­non Klein calls “coun­ter­pro­duc­tive and very un­for­tu­nate.” Klein has a very open “see for your­self” men­tal­ity when it comes to fight­ing BDS.

Of prospec­tive del­e­ga­tions he sug­gests they “form their own views, come and see; this is an open so­ci­ety, it’s quite unique. [They should] talk to peo­ple of all po­lit­i­cal per­sua­sions. We think in­for­ma­tion is re­ally em­pow­er­ing here,” he said.

Klein is the chief pol­icy and strat­egy of­fi­cer at Os­car Health, and pre­vi­ously served as chan­cel­lor of the New York City Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, where he over­saw more than 1,600 schools, with 1.1 mil­lion stu­dents, 136,000 em­ploy­ees and a $22 bil­lion bud­get.

AIFL’s mem­bers come from var­i­ous pro­fes­sional and eth­nic back­grounds, and, sur­pris­ingly, most are not in­volved with Jewish causes.

There­fore, its mem­ber base brings valu­able out­side per­spec­tives to the is­sues, and, just like the del­e­ga­tions, en­ables greater con­nec­tiv­ity of opin­ion-lead­ers to Is­rael.

Klein is re­plac­ing Kenneth J. Bialkin, who will re­main the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s chair­man. As an or­ga­ni­za­tion, AIFL be­lieves in fos­ter­ing the un­break­able bond be­tween the US and Is­rael.

“I am hon­ored to join AIFL, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that does so much to broaden pub­lic knowl­edge of, and sup­port for, Is­rael. I look for­ward to working closely with chair­man Ken Bialkin, whose in­valu­able lead­er­ship has been vi­tal to AIFL’s growth, and the en­tire AIFL team,” Klein said in a state­ment re­leased upon the an­nounce­ment of his pres­i­dency.

Klein will also join Danny Gil­er­man, Is­rael’s for­mer am­bas­sador to the UN, who is chair­man of the AIFL’s Is­rael Board.



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