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Congressional Delegation Visits Ariel

Credit: Office of Mayor Eliyahu Shaviro

The US-Israel Educational Association (USIEA), founded by Ariel’s dear friend and dedicated partner Heather Johnston from Birmingham, Alabama. Through her leading role in JH Israel, the partner for the Ariel National Center for Leadership Development (ANCLD), Heather founded the organization to bring greater awareness to what’s happening in Ariel and its growing impact on Israeli society.

This past week, Ariel was thankful to host this year’s USIEA delegation, including:

  • Rep. Mac Thornberry (R – TX)
  • Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R – WA)
  • Rep. Henry Cuellar (D – TX)
  • Rep. Steve Russell (R – OK)
  • Rep. Tom Graves (R – GA)
  • Sen. James Lankford (R – OK)

As with all USIEA delegations, last week’s Congressional mission spent a day in Ariel and the Samaria-Benjamin regions. American Friends of Ariel’s Executive Director, Avi Zimmerman, met the group of the Trans-Samaria Highway (Route 5) traveling east toward the Ariel Industrial Park. At the Achva factory, the visitors were exposed to a firsthand account of shared workspaces for Israelis and Palestinians alike and they were simultaneously informed about the devastating repercussions of the anti-Israel boycott movement on the Palestinian population.

The group continued their journey to the ANCLD, where they saw Israeli Bedouins and Jews training together on the ropes courses. Mayor Eliyahu Shaviro welcomed the group warmly at the Ariel Pioneers Museum over lunch, where the group was then treated to a performance by our International Folk Dance Troupe. Mr. Galal Safadie, who oversees the Arab population in Israel’s Ministry of Education, delivered compelling remarks about the need to integrate Arabs into Israeli society.

The group then continued to Ariel University, where Senator James Lankford (R-OK) described his work since a previous USIEA delegation visit to Israel – including his efforts to advance bilateral US-Israel funding for research and business initiatives for beneficiaries on both sides of the Green Line. The visit then continued to the Shiloh archaeological site, where they met with Eliana Passentin of the Benjamin Regional Council learned about Israel’s rich heritage across the region. They culminated their visit with a debriefing from Avi Zimmerman over dinner at the Psagot Winery.

AFA thanks the congressmen and women who visited with USIEA for taking a sincere interest in the people in Ariel and the region. We are proud to see that the US-Israel partnership is strong.