By Adam Barry
It is not an everyday occurrence for a Congressman to take time to sit down with students, but one group at the University of Maryland got that opportunity this semester to talk politics with one of the nation’s leaders.
Terps For Israel is an on-campus lobbying group open to any students willing to work to strengthen the relationship between the US and Israel. The group’s main focus is to lobby on Capitol Hill in favor of pro-Israel policies, like increased sanctions in Iran and foreign assistance to Israel.
In addition to its work on Capitol Hill, the group works with leaders on campus to engage them in pro-Israel politics. For example, if the group were to talk to someone from a business organization on campus they would focus on new startups and investment opportunities to lend a hand to Israeli businesses.
In the same vein, if Terps for Israel was engaging the leader of an on-campus group concerned with LGBT issues they would highlight how Israel is one of the most progressive countries in the Middle East in terms of those issues.
Since its inception, Terps for Israel has worked with various politicians in Congress, but this semester the group had a breakthrough.
While they are often routed to staffers of various Washington politicians, the group was able to organize a sit-down with Steny Hoyer, the United States Representative for Maryland’s Fifth District and current House Minority Whip.
The group met with Hoyer only days before a nuclear agreement would be reached between Iran and the United States, a development with huge implications for Israel.
“We talked about what a potential could look like, and his thoughts to a follow-up on the interim agreement,” said Terps For Israel’s vice-president Josh Levitan.
The rest of the meeting involved the group “expressing our support for the US-Israel relationship,” and to thank Hoyer for his support according to president Max Meizlish.
They even got Hoyer to sign on to the group’s leadership statement, which outlines the program’s long-term goals and each member signs as they join. “It was important to us that he gets to see students views,” said Levitan, especially because Hoyer is an alumnus of University of Maryland.
Every semester the group hosts an open event along with a dinner for on-campus leaders to talk Israel, and next semester the group hopes to bring Hoyer or another member of Congress along with a member of a pro-Israel think-tank to speak at this event.
“The goal of the event is to bring said leaders together to network and talk about Israel,” with students who may become global or national leaders in the future, says Meizlish.
Along with Hoyer, the group has been in contact with Congressman Ben Cardin of Maryland to possibly speak at the event, where attendance is highly suggested for any students interested in Israeli-US politics.