Home News U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, other Congress members visit Israel

U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, other Congress members visit Israel

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Standing with seven of his colleagues at a kibbutz in northern Israel now evacuated because of attacks by Hezbollah during the current Gaza war on the other end of the country, U.S. Rep Brad Schneider, D-Highland Park, heard loud noises overhead.

Seeing typical things found on a farm, Schneider said he saw growing crops, signs of spring, and blooming flowers but the scene was not typical because no people were not picking the fruit or tending the crops.

“It was surreal,” Schneider said. “You have a beautiful kibbutz with fruit orchards. The flowers were in bloom. What you didn’t see were hundreds of children at the school. That made us realize it was because of Hezbollah. We heard the rockers overhead.”

This home on an Israeli kibbutz near the Gaza Strip was destroyed on Oct. 7 and a family of five with a five-year-old child and three-year-old twins were killed in the attack.( Courtesy of the Office of Rep. Brad Schneider)
This home on an Israeli kibbutz near the Gaza Strip was destroyed on Oct. 7 and a family of five with a five-year-old child and three-year-old twins were killed in the attack. (Photo courtesy of the Office of Rep. Brad Schneider)

Schneider was one of eight members of the U.S. House of Representatives spending four days this week in Israel seeing the impact of the war and hearing from both regular citizens and government officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Spending around 90 minutes with Netanyahu Wednesday, Schneider said with another delegation from Congress — primarily Republicans — arriving next week, he is hopeful to see more bipartisan efforts in the House of Representatives to fund American allies.

“It’s essential we pass the security funding with aid for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan. He will be with a group of Republicans coming next week,” Schneider said. “We had a robust and open discussion,” he added without going into detail.

Unhappy, Netanyahu canceled a trip to Washington by Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer and Tzachi Hanegbi, the head of the country’s National Security Council, to meet with President Joe Biden, he felt their American message was received.

“After we left, we heard they were going,” Schneider said.

Though Schneider said the discussion with Netanyahu was off the record, the Israeli Foreign Ministry released a video of the start of the meeting Thursday. The prime minister began with the value of the bipartisan nature of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

“It’s very important to maintain bipartisan support at all times and especially in these trying times,” Netanyahu said in the video. “We have to win. There is no substitute for victory,” he added referring to the current war.

The video showed both Schneider and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz talking but there was no sound as there was when Netanyahu spoke.

Besides discussions with Netanyahu, Schneider said they also met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and a representative of the Palestinian Authority who came to Jerusalem from Ramallah to meet with the Americans.

U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (left), D-Highland Park, meets with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem Thursday. (Photo courtesy of the Office of Rep. Brad Schneider)
U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (left), D-Highland Park, meets with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem Thursday. (Photo courtesy of the Office of Rep. Brad Schneider)

Schneider sees areas where joint efforts between Democrats and Republicans can be fruitful. Though the war has impacted moves toward a two-state solution, things can still be done to help relationships in the Middle East.

“We can continue to work together on bipartisan efforts like the Abraham Accords,” Schneider said. “We can work together on ways to build on that with other countries in the (Middle East) including normalization with Saudi Arabia.”

The trip started with a journey to the southern part of Israel near Gaza where the October 7 attack took place. They learned firsthand what happened there seeing ransacked homes where rubble remains.

Joining Schneider and Wasserman Schultz on the trip were U.S. Rep., Jim Costa, D-Calif.,  Rep. Juan Vargas, D-Calif., Rep. Valerie Foushee, D-N.C., Rep. Kathy Manning, D-N.C., Rep. Marilyn Strickland, D-Wash. And Rep. Norma Torres, D- Calif.

American Israel Education Foundation organized the trip. Schneider said the organization is a not-for-profit group affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.



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