Republican Members of Congress who visited Israel, as part of a tour organized by the US Israel Education Association (USIEA), learned that peace is achievable between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs.
USIEA sponsors advanced educational tours to Israel with members of Congress. During the tours, Members visit the two primary security fronts of Judea and Samaria.
The tour provides them with vital information that they can take back to the US Congress to further educate in the areas of defense, security and joint economic development between Israelis and Palestinians.
“We were focused on seeing the inner relationship between Palestinians and Israelis at sort of the grassroots level, and I was also impressed with that,” said Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL).
“There is so much promise there for us to focus on. Individual Israelis working with individual Palestinians to build a life within the community, both economically and otherwise,” he added.
Byrne spoke of the different sets of reality that exist in the leadership and on the ground.
“There’s a lot of political rhetoric [at the top], a lot of conflict, but when you talk to individual Palestinians, when you talk to individual Israelis in Judea and Samaria, you get a completely different feeling and understanding.”
Added Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO), “To see the integration from an economic standpoint and an entrepreneurial standpoint was new, and was marvelous, and was something that’s not being told. To see Palestinians that are working in an Israeli manufacturing plant, making four times the wage that they could have otherwise, and doing so peacefully and wanting to do so, is a story that we need to tell back in Congress and I think in the United States of America.”
“This grassroots effort, the Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce, the Israeli-Palestinian business leaders and what they are forging needs to be included in the ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan,” said Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA).
Heather Johnston, founder and executive director of USIEA, spoke of the eye-opening experience the visiting Congress Members had.
“The narrative is that everything is so separated. Palestinians have their side, Israelis have their side, and everybody’s mad at each other. The opposite is true: The real narrative is that they’re working together. Palestinians and Israelis want to, and are, working together.”