Etgar 36

Day 31: Boston & Philadelphia

By Jake Intrater:

The excitement of heading towards Philadelphia led us through the long and somewhat tedious drive from Boston to the City of Brotherly Love. We stopped in New Haven again for lunch and once again had some time to walk around the beautiful Yale campus situated in what felt like a small New England town despite the high rises just a few miles away. We also had the opportunity to drive through New York City and gaze at what this unbiased writer believes to be the greatest skyline in the world.

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We arrived in Philadelphia in the late afternoon, driving past the “We The People” mural and up to the National Museum of American Jewish History. Here we had the opportunity to speak to the counterparts to the Republican Jewish Coalition including the head of Jewish outreach from the DNC, the director of the National Jewish Democratic Council and a representative of Bend The Arc. They explained to us why most Jews do, and should, vote for the Democratic Party. Before they even began to talk about Israel, they presented some statistics about the DNC’s social policies were in line with the opinions of the vast majority of American Jews. As one of them so aptly summarized “I’d much rather be explaining to American Jews the Democratic Party’s foreign policy than the Republican’s stance on LGBTQ rights”.  They spoke to how diverse the opinions are in the Democratic Party are and how thus the new platform respects the dignity of the Palestinians — something Senator Sanders and his supporters felt very strongly about — while still reserving the right for the US to respond with unilateral military action if any terms of the Iran Deal were broken.

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Mr. Rosenbaum, the man from the NJDC, then proceed to tell what he saw as the narrative of the Iran Deal. In his mind, President Obama was at an inherent disadvantage in the negotiations because the other nations imposing sanctions had had trade with Iran for years, unlike the US. A deal had to be made and one was made. This stance was not just their stance. Supposedly a vast majority of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s cabinet also felt the same way and opposed military action. On the parameters of the deal, apparently the sole nuclear physicist congressman ran a test on whether evidence of uranium and plutonium experiments could be cleaned up within the 24 day extension period Iran was given and his answer was a resounding no. The NJDC was now focused on the implementation of the deal and ensuring that a nuclear program is never created. To be fair, other organizations like AIPAC have also moved to this stance. He also laid out another interesting point. When the deal was being discussed and many organizations were denouncing it, the NJDC formed a coalition of former heads and chair people of these denouncing organizations who all supported he deal. In Mr. Rosenbaum’s mind, this was evidence of the power of big money to influence the decisions of these organizations and he even said that his organization had received calls from donors promising never to contribute again.

In addition to the more gritty political aspects of the organization, they also spoke to us about the need for critical thinking and observation. Mr. Rosenbaum advised us to read the Democratic Party platform and the Republican’s as well and comparing them on issues we held dear to our hearts (he later clarified that he only recommended this course of actions because he was sure it would sympathize us to his cause). We heard about how groundbreaking it was to have a Jewish Secretary of Treasury in Jack Lew almost having a Jewish presidential nominee in Sanders and the potential for a Jewish senate majority leader in Chuck Schumer. There are also a number of Jews running for key battleground congressional and senatorial seats.

They left us with one thought; there is currently a single Jewish democratic state. Given demographics, without a two state solution Israel will soon be not primarily Jewish or not democratic if it wishes to remain a Jewish state. Thus, any party opposing a two state solution, was not thinking in Israel’s best interests. A single, Jewish, democratic state in Israel may soon be a thing of the past.

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As we left the museum, we came to a grassy area by the Liberty Bell and constitutional museum. MSNBC had set up huge projectors and on them we could observe the roll call vote currently taking place mere miles from where we stood. We observed as Hillary Clinton officially took the nomination by the vote and then the gracious concession by Senator Sanders as he emotionally moved to vote by acclimation. A chorus of cheers erupted both on the TV and among the spectators. History made, no question marks remained.

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For dinner we were given free time on South street and I personally was among the many who had a delicious Philly cheesesteak. I had tried and been disappointed in previous so called “Philly” cheesesteaks so I thought perhaps it was just an overhyped product. Wow, how glad I was to be wrong. They were delicious, I don’t think I will nor do I want to have a cheesesteak from anywhere else.

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Thus concluded our day as we drove to the hotel. On our walk to the bus we passed a memorial to Jonathan Netanyahu who died recusing Israeli civilians in a covert military mission. I did not realize this but the Netanyahu’s grew up in the Philly area so apparently Bibi has quite the Philadelphia accent when he speaks English.

I probably was then not the only one who concluded the night by watching the rest of the convention including a great speech from the hopefully inaugural First Gentleman President Bill Clinton and the incredibly moving breaking glass animation that seemed to bring many in the audience to tears.