JERUSALEM (Jun. 7)
A delegation of Congressional Black Caucus members ended an intensive five-day visit here saying they felt better-equipped to defend U.S. aid to Israel.
Seven members of the caucus joined the trip, which it co-sponsored with the American Israel Educational Foundation, which is affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
“It was a very important trip because, while we knew a great deal about Israel, we had the opportunity to fill the gaps and will communicate (what we learned) to our constituents,” said U.S. Rep. Major Owens (D-N.Y.).
“This is a difficult year for the budget, and there will be a lot of controversy,” he said, “and we’ll be in the middle of it.”
Owens made the comments as the group left the Prime Minister’s Office prior to its departure from Israel on Monday night.
He said Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had conveyed his strong commitment to the peace process and the fact that it is moving forward at a rapid rate.
Owens said that during the trip, which was filled with briefings and site visits, the group was given “every reason” on a “firsthand basis” for the United States to “continue support for Israel, uninterrupted.”
Among those accompanying the caucus delegation was Bernice Manocherian, a national vice president of AIPAC from New York, who initiated the trip because she believed it was “extremely important.”
“There is a great deal of polarization between Jews and blacks in the United States, and we felt it was an opportunity” to build bridges, she said.
Manocherian said she believed that was accomplished, in part because of the exposure the visitors got to the myriad programs to help absorb Ethiopian immigrants.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), said he will take back with him a much clearer sense of where the peace talks are headed, as well as of the “points of contention in the region.”