USIEA Congressional Tour to Israel 2011
USIEA would like to thank Rep. Doug Lamborn for his service as a Congressman in the 5th district of Colorado. Lamborn was not only an excellent Congressman, but also a fierce ally to Israel throughout the years. He played a crucial role in the effort to declassify Iron Dome, along with USIEA Founder Heather Johnston and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on USIEA’s first Congressional Tour to Israel in 2011.
Shortly after, Congressman Lamborn led an important hearing paving the way to appropriate the first funds for Israel’s Iron Dome, which has saved thousands of Israeli and Palestinian lives. The Congressman has served on the House Armed Services committee for 20 years and announced in early January that he would not be seeking reelection.
USIEA is proud of his work and the partnership that has occurred over the years, and we wish him all the best in this next season of life.
You can read the full story of how Heather Johnston and Doug Lamborn asked Prime Minister Netanyahu to declassify Iron Dome.
The following is an excerpt from Heather Johnston’s book “Uncommon Favor:”
“... I [Heather Johnston] formed the U.S. Israel Education Association and set out to create the tour of a lifetime for Congress, highlighting their important role in seeing the promises of God fulfilled for Israel and the mutual benefits for the United States. We would meet with Israeli leaders and top experts and give them the best that was offered.
My staff and I facilitated our first organized congressional tour to Israel in November 2011, with five chairpersons and their spouses from the US House Armed Services Committee…”
“Doug Lamborn, the congressman from Colorado, began to inquire on the first day about going to see Israel’s Iron Dome, the new weapons defense system that intercepted rockets in midair as they were lobbed into Israel from Syria or the Gaza Strip. I looked at Congressman Lamborn like he had a screw loose. Then he asked me again the next day, and the day after that. I kept rolling my eyes, wondering how I would perform that feat. The following day, we met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and he gave a short briefing on the new Iron Dome Defense System as part of the US-Israel collaboration. At the end of the meeting, the prime minister directed a question to me. I dodged it and asked him if we could go see the Iron Dome. He looked at me and then whispered into the ear of one of his cabinet leaders. He folded his hands with resolve, nodded yes, and agreed to declassify Iron Dome by the following morning so the members could see it. We were amazed.
The following day, we became the first delegation of US leaders to see Israel’s miracle-performing defense system.
The members were flabbergasted by the technology. I recalled Isaiah’s prophecy to Israel as our bus bumped along the dirt roads: Foreigners will rebuild your walls, and their kings will serve you (Isaiah 60:10). How fitting that the US (the foreigner) would take responsibility to help Israel create a wall of defense and share the financial load for Iron Dome, technology that would intercept hundreds and thousands of rockets over Israel in future years.
Upon their return to the United States, the members who were on our tour brought together the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Armed Services Committee and reviewed the importance of Israel’s defense system as it relates to America’s interests in the region. Two months later, this group of five congressmen, led by Congressman Lamborn, prepared legislation to triple the original budget for the missile defense system. It passed the House and Senate, and President Obama signed it.
Our initial congressional tour to Israel opened the playing field on Capitol Hill for our organization to facilitate many more briefings on Israel’s multilayered defense weapons, which appropriated billions of dollars toward Israel’s missile defense system.
The year after our initial congressional trip, Israel was put to the test by an egregious attack on its southern border when Hamas incited a war against Israel. Fortunately, Iron Dome installations had been placed in close proximity to all of the major cities and were 90 percent effective at intercepting and exploding the incoming rockets in midair, preventing Israel’s cities from harm.”
Where would Israel be today if USIEA had not brought members of Congress to Israel to meet with key leaders and experts?
We are proud that we did, and many lives have been saved because of the Congress members’ hard work on Capitol Hill. We look forward to continuing our Congressional Tours to Israel and forging ahead building a strong U.S.-Israel collaboration.
Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images