After waiting for a painful hour on the floor of the Washington Convention Center, I am finally allowed to enter the conference room. I race to the front and grab the seat closest to the Angel I know will be descending onto our unworthy presence very soon. I continue waiting and waiting, hoping that she will soon show up to her speaking engagement. As time goes on and the room begins to fill, I worry that something has gone wrong. Did she miss her flight? Did someone give her the wrong schedule? I decide to go out and wait for her in the hallway in case she got lost looking for the room. Five emotionally exhausting minutes later, I finally see a spark of fiery-red hair amongst the mostly brunette crowd. When she reaches the door, she pauses, clearly understanding that I have been waiting for her, and as we make eye contact, I launch into my over-practiced spiel.
As we walk together towards the stage, I tell her about how much I admire her and the work she has done for me and for the people I care about; I tell her that she brings me hope for the future and that she must know how much she means to her supporters. Promising that she’ll take a picture with me after the program is over, she ascends the stage and speaks with the wisdom and eloquence I know will win her countless more elections.
Years before meeting her at the 2016 AIPAC Policy Conference, I first encountered Member of Knesset Stav Shaffir as a conglomeration of pixels on my computer screen. Her powerful parliamentary speeches on both domestic and foreign policy quickly made inroads into my Zionist heart.
Born on 17 May 1985 in Netanya, Israel, Ms. Shaffir dedicated her life to social justice from a very young age and spent her formative professional years working as a journalist. Stav, who led Israel’s successful version of the 2011 “Occupy Wall Street” protests, was elected as the Knesset’s youngest female politician in history in January of 2013. Since then, Stav has spent her years in parliament advancing the rights of women, the LGBT community, Israeli-Arabs, the impoverished, the middle class, and Israeli youth.
In Stav Shaffir, I see so much of what I want to become: with a firm commitment to her country and to her people, Stav has taken her passion for social justice to the legislature where she has thus far enacted real change and sparked real conversations; and in the oft-messy world of politics, she has shown compassion and thoughtfulness.
Check out MK Shaffir speak the truth about the Palestinians
and about Zionism.