There’s not many high school students who can speak with cogent authority on Israeli-U.S. relations and public policy, but then again, maybe you’ve never met Jacob Silverstein ‘17. Silverstein recently attended the American Israel Public Affairs Conference (AIPAC) held at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. from March 26-March 28. AIPAC is an organization that intends to preserve the relationship between Israel and United States in a bipartisan manner.
As the only democratic country in the Middle East, a strong Israel is a keypoint of stability in a volatile region, Silverstein maintains. He believes that Israel is integral to United States foreign policy. While at AIPAC, Silverstein lobbied Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal and Representative John Larson on pro-Israel legislation on Capitol Hill. Some policy Silverstein advocated for included HR 1698 (Iran Ballistic Missiles and International Sanctions Enforcement Act) which supports sanctions against Iran for their importing and exporting of weapons, and HR 1697 (Israel Anti-Boycott Act) which counters divestiture in Israel. Silverstein also argued for the US to maintain its foreign aid budget in support of Israel, which represents 1% of the total U.S. foreign aid budget. Not easily intimidated, Silverstein spoke with conviction to his legislators. He said, “It was really exhilarating. It’s something I’m really passionate about. I stand with something that’s bigger than myself and something that’s important to Jews and Americans as a whole.”
Speakers at AIPAC’s general session included Benjamin Netanyahu, Paul Ryan, Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, Charles Schumer, Paul Kagame , and Tony Blair. Attendees can predetermine which break out sessions to attend and hear topics of special interest. While waiting for one workshop, Silverstein engaged presenter and former CNN reporter, Frank Sesno on his recent book, Ask More, about the power of questions. Sesno was so impressed with Silverstein that he invited Silverstein to attend the Planet Forward Conference at George Washington University that focused on environmental issues through storytelling.
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