Home December 2013 Doing His Bit for Israel

Doing His Bit for Israel

When U.S. Representative Raul Ruiz arrived in Jerusalem in August with a delegation of 37 House Democrats, a greater understanding of Israel resulted.  The delegation was sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), a charitable organization affiliated with AIPAC, America’s pro-Israel lobby.
Thanks to a grant from AIPAC, the Foundation funds educational seminars to Israel for members of Congress and “other political influentials.” This enabled Ruiz, the desert’s recently elected Congressman from the 36th District (representing the Coachella Valley) to get a broader view of issues confronting Israel today.
Ruiz is no stranger to Israel when it comes to emergency care, his medical specialty.  His relationship with Israeli physicians and rescue workers began in 2010 in Haiti, after the island’s devasting earthquake.  Ruiz was the medical director for the Jenkins/Penn Haitian Relief Organization, supervising seven physicians and 23 relief workers alongside Israeli colleagues.
He said later that the trip to Haiti was a life-changing event for him.  The timing for Ruiz’s recent tour to Israel was right, as it was when the Israeli and Palestinian Governments were restarting peace talks.  According to his spokesperson, Whitney Mitchel, this visit was also an opportunity to talk to key Israeli business leaders about trade and investment opportunities in his 36th Congressional District.
Ruiz’s candid impressions of Israel reflect his concern as a physician and a politician.
“We asked why the Israelis don’t move on faced with unending attacks,” Ruiz said.
“This is because of the of the nation’s ability to be resilient.  My overall take home of the trip is that Israel is a vibrant land with a secure people.  Despite being surrounded by extremists who want to do harm, they persevere.”
He said after the trip that that viewing the West Bank from inside the country was his moment of truth.
“Despite the challenges, the Israelis thrive,” he said.
While based in Jerusalem, the delegation’s focus on environmental issues looked at desalinization, the efficient use of water and renewable energy.
Ruiz says its easy to see the similarities between Tel Aviv and Palm Springs.  Both share a flair for Modernism, with the former having been influenced by the Bauhaus architectural style.
And while Palm Springs has attained global coverage for its Modernism Week events taking place annually in February, Tel Aviv also honors Modernism with similar tours, lectures and publications.
“Israelis are secure with their love of families and faith and that the future is theirs in the making,” Ruiz said upon his return.
“As a ‘start up’ nation’ with a strong infrastructure rooted in education, the interconnectedness between the United States and Israel is evident.  I think it fundamentally starts with the fact both countries were born from an idea of creating a safe haven for people who want to build a better world based on peace and dignity where all can prosper.  I went to Israel with an open mind and heart taking my journal and making notes.  I returned a better person with a deeper understanding and appreciation of Israel.  I want to return as there are many projects deserving our attention. We can build those bridges and collaborate. We can learn from each other to find solutions.”


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