web analytics
April 25, 2014 / 25 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



What I Learned About America On My Summer Vacation: An Interview With MK Uri Orbach


Share Button

In the less than two years since he gave up his full-time job as a print and radio journalist, Uri Orbach, 50, has distinguished himself as an indefatigable parliamentarian for the Religious Zionist Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party, which sits in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s coalition government.

Rather than wasting valuable time during the Knesset’s nearly three-month summer break, Orbach decided to spend several weeks in the U.S. studying American political history and meeting with members of Congress and everyday citizens.

The Jewish Press: Who invited you to the U.S. and why?

Orbach: The State Department invited four new Knesset members as part of a special program to host parliamentarians who wish to understand and learn about the inner workings of the American government. The four of us were invited to political history encounters in Washington, D.C., New York and North Carolina. We learned about the political powers associated with the federal and state governments.  

 

Why was it important for you to participate in this event?

Most educational experiences provide you with something valuable. As a new politician, it is important for me to be given the tools and knowledge to understand how America looks at the world and at Israel. What’s interesting from my point of view is that the nature of American politics is very different from Israeli politics and is not suitable for our electoral system. However, it is important to understand the electoral and political process and perhaps adapt some of the ideas. I was particularly interested in the ongoing, direct relationship between the voting public and their congressmen.

Did you learn about U.S. history and politics before you became a journalist?

I thought I knew a lot about American history based on all of the reading I did as I kid. But when I went to America, I discovered how much I didn’t know about America. I still remembered central events in American history such as the Boston Tea Party, the Constitutional Convention, the Civil War and key points of American history during the 20th century.

You know, we see this big nation called America through an Israeli prism, which is only natural. But in order to truly understand America, you must see it through American eyes and that’s a completely different perspective. Despite the fact that Israelis are heavy consumers of American culture, movies, music, etc., there are other critical things to learn about America that cannot be understood just by focusing on the cultural aspects.

Who were the other parliamentarians who went with you?

Yariv Levin of Likud, Orit Zuaretz of Kadima and Hamed Amar of Yisrael Beitenu.

What struck you most in your encounters with America and Americans?

First of all, when traveling abroad with your colleagues away from the Knesset, you have an opportunity to understand them better within more relaxed surroundings. Rather than emphasizing our political differences on certain issues, we decided it was more important to focus on how we as a group of Knesset members can promote the image of Israel in a positive manner to our colleagues in Washington.

 

Congressman Dan Burton (R-Indiana), center, welcomes MK Uri Orbach, third from left, and other members of the Knesset delegation to his office on Capitol Hill.

 

I was left with some initial impressions and perceptions of the U.S. To me, America is a secular country with religious people. While there is a separation of church and state, the majority of the people I met are believers. Even American patriotism is based on an elemental core of religious belief. Israel, on the other hand, is a religious country where the majority of its citizens happen to be secular. The state of Israel is more involved in the personal religious affairs of its citizens (through the Chief Rabbinate, religious councils, etc.), even though most of the people are secular.

Where did you spend Shabbat, and did you have any trouble finding kosher food?

Though intense interaction with local Jewish communities was not a key goal of this trip, I spent my first Shabbat in Baltimore, where I had the chance to meet with members of the local National Religious [Modern Orthodox] community. My second Shabbat was spent in Manhattan, where I mingled with young members of the Carlebach shul and the Jewish Center on the Upper West Side. In the afternoon, I headed over to the Great Lawn in Central Park, where there were a great many kippah-wearing youngsters.

Getting kosher food in Baltimore and New York wasn’t a problem, but North Carolina was a bit more of a challenge. However, a friend of mine from Baltimore made sure I had kosher food so I wouldn’t be hungry for a moment.

How will your experience in the U.S. help you as an Israeli parliamentarian?

I’ll tell you something that might sound a bit weird. I’ve learned to appreciate the power of America, as well as the influence of the government. But I’m still left with the impression that America, with all due respect, cannot understand how our small country is surrounded by a range of enemies. America is this massive country that projects an image of power and being well defended. Thus, it is very difficult for Americans to actually understand what it means to be a small nation like Israel that is under constant threat and cannot afford to lose a single war. The notion of America and Israel both being democracies certainly creates a bond between us, but we cannot pin all our hopes on America.

Did you come to have a better understanding of President Obama during your time in America?

I’m afraid President Obama will be more committed to the peace process than to the fate of Israel. People who think peace alone will solve all the problems in the region just don’t understand the reality of things. I did not return from America with a more optimistic feeling in relation to the president, but I was left with positive feelings based on the discussions I had with members of the House and Senate.

Share Button

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “What I Learned About America On My Summer Vacation: An Interview With MK Uri Orbach”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Mock Eviction Notice shoved under the doors of students' rooms in predominantly Jewish NYU dorm by NYU SJP.
NYU Latest Site of Anti-Israel Mock Eviction Notices
Latest Indepth Stories
Students in Israel get computers to assist in their schoolwork.

Day schools can have boys and girls participate in the same online class but they don’t meet or interact in “real time.”

Richard Falk, FORMER  United Nations Human Rights Council’s Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories.

Jews so hostile to their own people they’ve spun out into the orbit of rabid anti-Israeli and pro-Islamic radicalism.

Breaking the Fw:Fw:Fw Chain

Rav Pam said we must realize that God has no pleasure from such negative speech.

NIF support for BDS groups, writes Black, also included acting as a “go between for other donors….

Brandeis, which had to have known about her record of criticism of Islam, pulled the honor after pressure from a Muslim advocacy group and a number of faculty members and students.

Wherever I was invited around the world, I always met with people and let them know that I wanted to hear great stories.

R. Hadaya strongly argues in favor of establishing a festive day in commemoration of the establishment of the state of Israel.

The Palestinian Authority has jailed more than 350 Arabs for “security” reasons in just 2014.

Since Torah is the great equalizer, the great reconciler of divergent but valid opinions, this is also the place where common ground is reached.

Some American Jews feel their community has been hijacked from within by groups waging war against Israel seemingly in the name of the Jewish people.

Jerusalem only seems important in the Islamic world when non-Muslims control or capture the city.

Jordan’s king is adding fuel to the fire on the Temple Mount, blaming Israel for violence by Muslim Arab rioters.

At Brandeis, much of what counts as Western civilization got cold feet and won’t stand with Hirsi Ali.

But the lesson from this meditation is that hidden behind the anti-semitic act is the greatest light.

More Articles from Steve K. Walz
Mahmoud Abbas

At the press conference with the Israeli reporters, Abbas threatened to cancel the Oslo Accords, dismantle the Palestinian Authority, and force the Israeli government to pay the salaries of PA employees and the police.

Kerry reportedly admitted that he had “made a mistake.”

Before returning to Washington, Abbas reiterated to Kerry in a face-to-face meeting in Ramallah that the PA and the Arab League would never recognize the existence of a Jewish state in Israel.

Dechner admitted funneling significant amounts of money to the defendants in order to move the Holyland project forward.

On Tuesday, the London Daily Telegraph reported that an intelligence source involved with the secretive investigation into the plane’s disappearance claimed that the incident might have been part of a deliberate suicide mission by one of the pilots or someone on board the aircraft. International aviation experts, including Israeli officials, believe that someone deliberately punched in a computer rerouting code shortly after takeoff.

According to Arab and Israeli media sources, Abbas steadfastly demanded that the White House prod Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into releasing convicted killers Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Sa’adat. He also reportedly insisted that Israel freeze all settlement construction activities in exchange for extending the peace talks until the end of the year.

JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the international community on Monday for turning a blind eye to Iran’s continued attempts to foment global terrorism.

Despite Obama’s threat of military force against Assad unless he relinquishes his chemical weapons cache, Assad has repeatedly failed to meet UN deadlines to deliver his deadly arsenal to a special arms disposal unit.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/what-i-learned-about-america-on-my-summer-vacation-an-interview-with-mk-uri-orbach/2010/08/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: