Former U.S. senator urges students to help Isreal

by David Anderson

When Rudy Boschwitz went to Israel in 1940, he saw the Israeli prime minister speak about how Western powers had abandoned the Jewish people during the war.
Now Boschwitz is encouraging Jewish students to push the United States to help the conflict-torn country by providing money and weapons.
“Always remember that nobody helped our people in the darkest hour of the Jewish history, and it is our strength that is absolutely vital to our survival,” he said.
The former senator addressed issues regarding the history of the Middle East conflict and U.S.-Israeli relations Tuesday at Hillel, the Jewish student center.
Boschwitz credited the U.S. government for its more recent support of Israel. Out of $15.5 billion in foreign aid, $3.1 billion goes to Israel, Boschwitz said.
He was assisted by Steve Silberfarb, director of the Jewish Community Relations of Minnesota.
“Without Sen. Boschwitz, foreign aid was embroiled in foreign policy in South America,” Silberfarb said. Once at the Senate, he was key in persuading his Republican colleagues to grant foreign aid to Israel, he said.
Boschwitz grew up in Berlin, but his father immigrated to the United States when Adolf Hitler took power in 1933. He said many of his family members stayed on the continent, but only one survived the Nazi genocide.
After working some years as president of Plywood Minnesota, a chain of hardware stores, Boschwitz set for a congressional career as a Republican senator representing Minnesota from 1978 to 1991 before returning to the renamed Home Valu.
During the lecture, Boschwitz encouraged students to become involved in pushing to increase U.S. military support to Israel by attending the May 23-24 American Israeli Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington.
“It’s a critical time once again for Israel, and it’s important that (students) be involved,” Boschwitz said.
The conference will feature the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, former U.S. President George Bush, current U.S. Vice President Al Gore and a number of House representatives.
“There is very strong bipartisan support in Congress today for Israel,” Silberfarb said.
At the lecture, Boschwitz discussed the threat to Israel coming from neighboring countries, Iraq in particular. Israel has been in territorial conflict with its neighboring countries since its inception in 1947. Palestine and Israel are currently negotiating how to share Jerusalem.
Despite the troubles in Israel, students at the Jewish cultural center were optimistic about the prospects of peace in the Middle East.
David Dreytser, a chemical engineering junior, said he believes a comprehensive agreement is possible, but the peace has to be more than just an absence of war — it requires a compromise from all sides.
This kind of thinking is what Hillel officials intend from their speaker series.
“By bringing the speakers, we want to encourage students to learn more on their own, to realize that issues are not all in black and white,” said Amy Olson, executive director of the Jewish student center.
The event was sponsored by the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, a lobbying organization launched in the 1950s.

David Anderson covers professional schools and international perspectives and welcomes comments at [email protected].