April 21, 2004

Students Lobby Congress for Israel Security Resolutions

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This past weekend, I and about 20 other Cornell students took our bags and our beliefs to the nation’s capitol. The Cornell-Israel Public Affairs Committee (CIPAC) organized the trip with the help of students at George Washington University, allowing everyone to stay in Washington, D.C., and meet with our congressmembers’ offices to discuss two resolutions regarding the security of Israel.

Many of the students had never lobbied before and were excited not only to argue for causes they support, but also to learn about and become a part of a lawmaking process that often seems inaccessible.

A week prior to the trip, Max Chamovitz, an American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobbyist, visited the group and conducted a training session about lobbying government officials. He explained that many government officials enjoy meeting with constituents.

Chamovitz taught strategy and etiquette to the students, who then practiced arguments they might give to specific congressmembers.

We arrived in Washington late Thursday night and stayed with students in the GWU dorms. Friday morning, after breakfast and a review of the issues at hand, the entire group met with Rep. Maurice Hinchey’s (D-N.Y.) foreign policy legislative assistant, Mike Iger, to discuss the two resolutions.

Dan Greenwald ’05, vice-president of campus relations for CIPAC, lobbied on behalf of concurrent resolution 390, considered by both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The resolution condemns the United Nations’ request for the International Court of Justice, the U.N.’s judicial body at the Hague, to give an “advisory opinion concerning the international legal consequences arising from Israel’s construction of a security fence in parts of the West Bank, and for other purposes.”

“We chose H Con Res 390 because the construction of the Israeli security fence is a very important step in bringing peace to Israelis and Palestinians,” Greenwald said. “It will be impossible to negotiate a final peace accord while suicide bombers blow themselves up in Israeli caf