CONGRESSIONAL TOUR TO ISRAEL
USIEA completed its 7th Congressional Tour to Israel in February 2023. This year’s delegation consisted of 4 bipartisan members in the House of Representatives and two of their Chiefs of Staff.
Notably, this delegation was one of the first to meet with the newly formed Israeli government. USIEA educated the members of Congress on new initiatives and connected them with key leaders in Israel, ultimately building a stronger U.S.-Israel relationship.
KEY GOVERNMENT MEETINGS
One of USIEA’s primary goals in leading the U.S. Congress to Israel is to connect the members with top Israeli government leaders and understand how the United States can support Israel.
Meeting with Ambassador Nides
Ambassador Tom Nides kicked off the week by welcoming the members to Jerusalem on the first night of the tour. Nides was appointed by President Biden to be the U.S. Ambassador to Israel. He spoke about the depth and strength of the United States’ commitment to Israel, as well as some of the challenges facing the two nations today.
USIEA Delegation meets with Ambassador Nides
Meeting with Ron Dermer
Later in the week, the delegation visited the Knesset and met with Ron Dermer, the former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. and newly appointed Minister of Strategic Affairs. Dermer’s new portfolio includes handling the Iranian threat, building upon the Abraham Accords, and liaising with the U.S. government. He provided an extensive briefing on Iran and the consequences of reentering the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or Iran Nuclear Deal). Due to recent international events such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine and civil protests in Iran, Dermer sees a narrow window to bring the U.S. and Israel in alignment on Iranian deterrence.
USIEA Delegation meets with Ron Dermer
Meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu
After being briefed by Minister Dermer, the delegation met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He addressed an array of topics including Saudi Arabia and its complex relationship with Israel and the United States, the great contribution of the Abraham Accords (Israel, Bahrain, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, and Sudan) to regional stability and possibilities for expansion, and of course Iran and its proxies in the Middle East. Netanyahu emphasized the importance of the bipartisan ties between the U.S. and Israel and thanked the members for their unwavering support.
Delegation meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu
INDUSTRY LEADERS & EXPERTS
In addition to high level governmental meetings, USIEA uniquely focuses on connecting the members of Congress with Israeli industry leaders and experts.
In Jerusalem, the members were briefed by Carice Witte of SIGNAL. Witte provided an in-depth background on Chinese global influence. She particularly highlighted the need for both Israel and the United States to reduce their dependence on China as a matter of national security.
Carice Witte presents to members of congress
After Witte’s briefing, the members transitioned into a meeting with Israeli life sciences leaders. First, the delegation heard from Jon Medved with OurCrowd, a venture capitalist firm with over 90 pharmaceutical and health tech companies. Medved addressed the Congress on Israel’s burgeoning life sciences industry and the need for a U.S. FDA field office in the region to increase opportunities for collaboration. Medved was followed by executives from top medical device companies that reiterated the industry desire for an FDA office, particularly one servicing the entire Abraham Accords region and thereby harnessing the strengths of all involved nations. In line with Witte’s briefing, an Abraham Accords FDA bureau would help reduce U.S. and Middle Eastern regional dependence on China for critical life sciences drugs and devices.
Jon Medved presents to members of congress
The delegation traveled to Rafael Industries to see Israel’s fully operational multi-layer missile defense system. Each layer, including the famous Iron Dome, is designed to protect against different categories of threats. Produced by Rafael, Iron Dome has been operational since 2011 and has more than 4,500 operational intercepts at an impressive rate of success of greater than 90%. Ari Sacher, USIEA Senior Policy Advisor and Chief Systems Engineer of Iron Dome, educated the members on new points of collaboration for the U.S. and Israel within the missile defense and military technology sector.
Members of Congress at Rafael Industries
The members also flew to the North to the strategic overlook at Mount Bental in the Golan Heights. Ilan Shulman, intelligence expert and former IDF spokesperson, briefed the group on Iranian and Russian entrenchment in the region and the very near threats they pose to Israeli existence. From this vantage point, members could look across the border into Syria and grasp the geographical, as well as geopolitical context.
Ilan Shulman briefing the members of congress
THE WEST BANK
USIEA uniquely takes members of Congress throughout the West Bank, educating them on one of the most contested lands in the world. While traveling through the region, members met with the full gamut of society including political leaders, businessmen, and industrial workers.
The delegation went to Hebron and met in the home of Sheikh Ashraf Jabari, Co-Founder of Judea Samaria Chamber of Commerce. Here, the members heard from Palestinian business leaders on the grassroots peace movement blossoming between Palestinians and Israelis. This peace is built on a joint economy and joint business leading to normalized relations.
The group also visited Ariel where the members received a briefing from Mayor Eli Shaviro on the dynamics of the West Bank. Furthermore, the members went to Standard Carbon, an integrated business startup, and the Halva Industrial Factory which co-employs Israelis and Palestinians.
Ashraf Jabari and avi zimmerman briefing members on integrated business between palestinians and israelis
Members of Congress leave USIEA tours armed with knowledge and insight to affect positive change in Washington, D.C. We look forward to continuing our educational efforts with senior government leaders and for the practical outcomes from this year’s tour.
On the right: Rep. Randy Weber and wife Brenda
On the left: Larry Cohen
Cohen graduated from UC San Diego with a degree in Political Science and a Masters of Business Administration from Strayer University. Previously, Cohen worked as a Bio-Pharmaceutical and Technology Sales Leader with over 19 years of experience. Larry Cohen has been working in the House of Representatives for 3 years as Representative Juan Vargas’ Chief of Staff (California’s 52nd District).
On the right: Rep. Diana Harshbarrger and husband bob
On the left: Jeanette Whitener
Whitener graduated from DePaul University with a Bachelor’s Degree and a Masters of Public Policy from Georgetown University. Whitener has worked on Capitol Hill for over 25 years and has been the Chief of Staff for numerous Congressmen such as Rep. Jerry Weller, Rep. Randy Neugebauer, Rep. Steve Knight. She now currently serves as Rep. Randy Weber’s Chief of Staff (Texas’ 14th District).
On the right: Rep. Rick Allen and Wife Robin
On the left: Rep. Juan Vargas
BUILDING THE FUTURE
Due to the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the tour, USIEA is pleased to announce plans to facilitate another Congressional delegation to Israel in February 2024. USIEA invites you to stay connected with us to receive more updates.
PRESS FROM THE 2023 TOUR
CONCERNS OVER CHINA, IRAN PROMPT U.S. LAWMAKERS TO STRENGTHEN ISRAEL TIES
As Iran’s nuclear potential reaches new levels and China increases its influence in the Middle East, the relationship between the U.S. and Israel grows even more vital. That is a major reason many U.S. lawmakers visit America's number one ally in the region.
Times of israel
The top Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and several other U.S. lawmakers taking part in a series of visiting congressional delegations met with Israel’s leadership this week to discuss judicial overhaul plans, Iran and ties between Jerusalem and Washington.
In conjunction with the educational efforts of USIEA, members of Congress have identified the following Lanes of Action to support the U.S.-Israel relationship:
1. Educate on the opportunity "friendshore" aspects of the U.S. life sciences supply chain to Israel and the Abraham Accords countries in order to create a staging ground in the Middle East for the U.S. life sciences supply chain, shifting our over dependence away from China and diversifying our offshore supply.
2. Promote Israeli-Palestinian cooperation and co-existence through economic integration of Israeli and Palestinian societies by working with the relevant U.S. government entities to support businesses jointly owned, managed, and/or employing Palestinians and Israelis and/or projects that jointly benefit Palestinian and Israeli societies without prejudice to the location of the recipient.
3. Increase congressional awareness of the danger of Iranian entrenchment in Syria and their provision of critical weapons technology to the Lebanese Hezbollah.
4. Support bilateral U.S.-Israel defense collaboration by employing proven cutting edge Israeli military technology and experience to strengthen U.S. armed forces.