The United States and Israel needs to maintain a strong relationship, and the Christian community is needed to help ensure that relationship stays strong. That was the primary message at a meeting hosted by the Iowa chapter of Concerned Women for America (CWA) with staff from American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) at the Airport Holiday Inn in Des Moines on Monday night.
The 25 people who attended had the opportunity to meet AIPAC Midwest regional staff and learn how evangelicals in Iowa can help to ensure that American ties with Israel stay strong, as well as, learn why the relationship between the two is important for both nation’s national security. The off-the-record briefing was by invitation only and meant to be small in order to foster relationship-building.
Policy issues that AIPAC pursues, according to its website, is to prevent Iranian nuclear weapons capability which they believe would destabilize the region, to strengthen American-Israeli strategic cooperation and to support security assistance for Israel among other issues of concern. The United States for instance supports Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. They are a non-partisan organization that dubs itself as “America’s pro-Israel lobby” they do not endorse or rate candidates, but seek to educate members of Congress on their issues regardless of political party.
Even though much AIPAC support in the past has come from the Jewish community there is a recognition that many evangelicals can be seen as friends and are needed to contact legislators on issues that are related to this issue. Especially as the percentage of the Jewish people in the United States shrinks and states with small Jewish populations gain Congressional seats.
AIPAC recently opened up its policy conference to Concerned Women for America members, and the CWA National President, Peggy Nance, visited Israel with AIPAC staff. Shortly after the CWA board added support for Israel as one of their core issues. The Iowa chapter recently sent two of their staff members, Denise Bubeck, their state outreach coordinator, and Diana Cummins-Bates, their Grassroots Coordinator, to the AIPAC Policy Conference in Wasington, DC. As a result they wanted to help build awareness within the evangelical community. The Iowa chapter of Concerned Women for America is the first chapter to host an event with AIPAC.
CWA’s Iowa State Director, Tamara Scott, said that it is important that Iowa Christians get involved. “It is pretty simple biblically that God has told us that those who bless Israel will be blessed and those who curse Israel will be cursed.” Scott told Caffeinated Thoughts. “We were very pleased a year ago when a pastor in Coralville, Iowa understood that even if our President and our nation were not to stand behind Israel; if God’s word is true, and we believe it is, then at the very least Iowa should stand behind Israel.”
On May 25, 2012 Iowa Governor Branstad signed a proclamation declaring the allegiance of Iowa to Israel, her existence, her purpose on earth, and Iowa’s loyalty to Israel as a friend and ally. Coralville Pastor Brad Sherman and AIPAC Council Chair David Adleman who is a lobbyist in Des Moines spearheaded the effort behind that proclamation.
Scott also shared why it is important for all Iowans regardless of faith to support Israel. “If you do not have a steady force in the Middle East, and Israel is that steady force. It provides the stability in the Middle East, and if we do not support Israel what happens with all the chaos in Egypt, Libya, Syria Iran and Iraq? What happens? We refer to America as a melting pot, I think we can refer to the Middle East as a boiling pot and Israel might just be the lid,” Scott added.
Two of the attendees, Rob and Ruth Ricksecker, told Caffeinated Thoughts that they have always had a love for Israel so they didn’t have to think too hard about attending. They plan on visiting Israel later this year. “I’m from New York and I grew up surrounded by Jews and I want to do whatever we can,” Ruth Ricksecker said. Rick Ricksecker said he wanted to “get informed, and to know what is going on.”
Jim Hobson said he knew of AIPAC, but hasn’t been directly involved and wanted to learn more. “I believe we are at a critical time in our world and Israel is at the center of the Middle East. There’s a lot happening there right now that is important for everyone. Israel is an important ally for us as a nation, and I want to be supportive of them in the things they have coming against them as there is this whole turmoil with all these countries surrounding them,” Hobson said.
Scott said that this was an initial first step and that they hope to build strong grassroots support throughout the state.