US, Israeli Officials Tout Growing Importance of the Israeli-American Community at 2nd Annual IAC Conference

October 21, 2015

Israeli-Americans have quickly emerged as a vitally important community for the U.S.-Israel relationship, noted U.S. and Israeli officials during a three-day summit hosted this week by the Israeli American Council (IAC). Two Israeli Government Ministers and Israel’s Leader of the Opposition, members of the U.S. Congress and Israeli Knesset, diplomats, thought leaders, entertainers, and CEOs addressed the crowd of 1,300 Israeli Americans over the course of the 2nd Annual National Israeli-American Conference.

“The Israeli community and the Jewish community in the U.S. are the defensive shield of Israel,” said Israel’s Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked.

During the conference – which represented the largest gathering to-date of Israel-Americans – the IAC announced the opening of new regional Councils in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington. Noting the organization’s rapid growth, Israel’s U.S. Ambassador Ron Dermer said that the “IAC represents a powerful idea whose time has come.”

In the last two years, the IAC has expanded from a single office in Los Angeles into a movement reaching 250,000 people nationwide through nine regional offices and a range of programs designed to instill Israeli and Jewish identity in the next generation, develop Israeli Americans as leaders of American Jewry, and strengthen the U.S.-Israel alliance.

IAC National Chairman Adam Milstein attributed the IAC’s rapid growth to the emergence of distinct Israeli-American identity. He said, “We have become a movement. America is our home. Israel will always be our Jewish homeland. And as Americans of Israeli descent we are uniquely positioned to strengthen the relationship between both countries.”

Conference sessions focused on subjects ranging from the nuclear deal with Iran, to Israeli culture, to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS). Elected officials from both countries argued that the Israeli American community could serve as an important force for fighting BDS. Israel’s Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog said, “Many are now portraying Israeli as the devil of the world. This is a very troubling phenomenon and it must be challenged.”

Congressman Ed Royce (R – CA) added, “If Israel’s enemies can’t do it with their armies, and they can’t do it with terror, they’re going to try to do with an economic boycott. This is what the IAC is here for.”

The wave of terror attacks now sweeping Israel were also a focal point of the event. Congressman Elliot Engel (D – NY) said, “I’m sick and tired of the moral equivalency of those who commit terror and those who have terror forced upon them. I have told Palestinians for the last 27 years you will never get your own state on the backs of terror.”

Citing incitement from the Palestinian Authority as the cause for the attacks, Israel’s Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water said, “Incitement under Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] is more anti-Semitic, more violent, and more dangerous than under Yasser Arafat…Until Palestinians recognize the right of the Jews to have their own sovereign state, it will be extremely difficult to have any kind of peace process.”

About The Israeli-American Council (IAC)
The mission of the Israeli American Council is to build an engaged and united Israeli-American community that strengthens the American-Jewish community, the next generation, and the State of Israel. The IAC’s effectiveness and success is the direct result its ability to organize, activate, and engage the Israeli-American community nationwide. The IAC strives to achieve these goals through programs and events for all ages, as well as by empowering and sponsoring a wide array of non-profit organizations within the Israeli-American community.