I can vividly remember the first few minutes of my trip to Israel.  I had just gotten off the plane, feeling tired but emotionally ready for the trip of a lifetime.  I went through Customs, retrieved my luggage and had just stepped onto the bus, when suddenly, I heard a shrill siren.  Everything immediately stopped.  Campers went running; girls started screaming and staffers at the airport were taking cover.  I started to run, remembering that we had only 15 seconds…15 seconds to find shelter, 14 seconds to take cover, 10 seconds to help others take cover, and 5 seconds to pray that we don’t get hit by a rocket. Then I heard a loud boom.  We filed out of the shelter to continue on with our day, but I wondered if that rocket had hit something.

I have learned over the years that Israel is a democratic state in the Middle East, an area that is full of constant turmoil and baseless hatred.  I knew that Israel and the United States are allies and share similar values. What I did not know was that one-day I would visit Israel and that America would help save my life.  The rocket that paused my visit to Israel was intercepted by Iron Dome…a defense system that intercepts rockets fired at civilians by organizations whose sole aim is the destruction of the State of Israel.  The United States continues to fund this critical defense system, and many others like it, saving countless innocent lives.

I was faced with running for shelter quite a few times during my visit to Israel that summer.  Unfortunately, this is an experience that is faced by millions of Israelis on a regular basis.   As I sit in my safe American home writing this piece, it is difficult to imagine the decisions Israeli mothers must make when the siren goes off.  Will they run first to the child who is upstairs listening to music or the infant playing in the backyard?  No one should have to live under such terror.

Israel has faced considerable challenges since its inception, including the wave of terror we have witnessed in recent months.  Israelis are doing everything they can to cope with the situation.  As members of a free, powerful republic, it is our duty as American citizens to stand by our ally Israel in these challenging times.  We have experienced terrorism on our own soil periodically and understand how devastating it is.  I urge everyone reading this to demand that the United States continues it’s funding to Israel in the years to come.  America has stood with Israel since it became a state, and Israel has answered by providing America with immeasurable benefits in security, medicine and environmental technology.

I implore you to contact your members of Congress today, to thank them for their continued support of Israel and to urge them to help Israel through these tough days.  The more assistance we give now, the more return we will receive down the road.

Contact your member of Congress today at the Capitol switchboard, (202) 225-3121, or learn more by visiting aipac.org.

-Joshua Nirenberg