Dillon Hosier
Proudly serving the U.S., Israel, and Israeli-Americans

The Israeli-American Advocacy Organization

Israelis in America are playing a critical role bridging a growing divide between progressive Democrats and Israel. (The United States Capitol Building, during an Israeli-American lobbying visit to Washington, DC. Photo Courtesy: Israeli-American Civic Action Network)

Israelis in America have engaged in a grand new experiment in civic engagement and advocacy. In city councils and state capitols coast to coast, and in Congress, Israeli and American advocates have joined together to combat antisemitism, fight BDS, and strengthen the U.S. – Israel alliance. And Israeli immigrants are playing a critical role in bridging a growing divide between progressive Democrats and Israel.

For the first time, Israelis in the United States have partnered with American allies to lead advocacy initiatives, impacting high school ethnic studies programs, supporting anti-BDS laws in several states, and promoting mandatory Holocaust education.

The Israeli-American Civic Action Network, better known as ICAN, is the new platform making this groundbreaking activity a reality. Leveraging a unique and cutting-edge advocacy model, ICAN elevates the Israeli immigrant voice in the United States with co-equal support from American partners.

ICAN is the first and only Israeli-American organization designed from day one to focus exclusively on advocacy and activism in support of a mission to create change for a better America, a more secure Israel, and a stronger U.S. – Israel alliance. 

ICAN’s advocates are diverse and identify as Israeli, American, or Israeli-American. 

ICAN advocates are Israelis living in America, who never forget their heritage, and respect their American friends who care deeply about the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel.

ICAN Nevada Chairwoman Sigal Chattah with Armenian American ally Lenna Hovanessian in Nevada supporting Holocaust and Genocide education legislation. (Photo Courtesy: Israeli-American Civic Action Network)
ICAN Nevada Vice-Chair, Milan Chatterjee, leads a judicial candidate town hall featuring the Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice, Christina Pickering, and six other judicial candidates, in advance of the 2020 elections. (Photo Courtesy: Israeli-American Civic Action Network)

ICAN advocates are American allies of the Israeli community in the United States. An inclusive and diverse coalition of many ethnicities, religions, and races who respect their Israeli friends living in America, honor their unique immigrant experience, and believe in their unequivocal right to connect with their heritage freely and without prejudice.

This dynamic alliance between Israelis and Americans, established on mutual respect, defines ICAN’s unique and potent Israeli-American chemistry.

ICAN California Israeli and American activists participate in a Beverly Hills City Council session to support changes in California’s ethnic studies curriculum. (Photo courtesy: Israeli-American Civic Action Network)
ICAN California Chairwoman Vered Elkouby Nisim participates in Beverly Hills City Council session to support changes in California’s ethnic studies curriculum. (Photo Courtesy: Israeli-American Civic Action Network)

Why is this relationship so meaningful? The Israeli voice. It matters in America. Here’s why.

Recent pro-Israel advocacy in the United States has been based on the Jewish state’s strategic value in the Middle East, its place on the frontlines in the global war on terror, and a foreign policy primarily based on a Bush-era post-9/11 calculus.

This strategy focuses on the value of the State of Israel, the nation’s qualities, acknowledging the people who live there only in general terms.

The Obama administration’s approach to foreign policy, a rejection of the Bush Doctrine, fostered conflict-fatigue in America. Israel, a nation perceived as defined by conflict, got swept up in shifting attitudes.

The pro-Israel sector adapted to this shift by adding new progressive-friendly “beyond the conflict” messaging to the toolbox, with start-up nation branding focused on high tech, water recycling, and solar panels.

Israeli and American activists in Washington State participate in a town hall with State Senator Adam Kline. (Photo Courtesy: Israeli-American Civic Action Network)

While adding an important extra dimension to Israel’s national image, this adaptation acknowledged Israelis only the broadest of terms. And, Israelis living in America were invisible, their voice, silent.

Today, the evidence is clear: American support for Israel is becoming an increasingly partisan issue. Recent polls from Gallup and Pew show a wide gap between Democrats and Republicans and their sympathies for Israel and the Israeli government. 

In the U.S. House of Representatives, on a critical vote for a resolution opposing the movement to boycott Israel, 16 Democrats voted against it. And, 24 Democrats are co-sponsors of H.R. 2407, a bill which falsely accuses Israel of mistreating Palestinian children. Finally, 12 Democratic members of the House signed on to a letter that calls for ending U.S. aid to Israel should it pursue its right to sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria. Over 20 advocacy organizations endorsed this letter, including IfNotNow, Jewish Voice for Peace Action, and CodePink, an axis of opposition working against the U.S.-Israel alliance.

ICAN Massachusetts Chairman Robert Mayer and State Representative Steven Howitt with Israeli and American advocates supporting anti-BDS legislation. (Photo Courtesy: Israeli-American Civic Action Network)

These are disappointing facts and highlight a growing partisan divide between Democrats and Israel driven by highly efficient and increasingly effective anti-Israel organizations. The widening gap does not mean that Democrats are anti-Israel. Many Democrats just haven’t heard the complete narrative about Israel. With ICAN, the Israeli voice in America plays a transformative role in advocacy, bridging the partisan divide.

At ICAN, Israelis are empowered to share their individual experience, cares, and concerns with their elected leaders. Embracing their unique identity, with unmatched authenticity, creates a powerful connection between Israeli constituents and their representatives, both Democrats and Republicans, at all levels of government.

ICAN California advocates Eden Shechter and Orly Lavi Travish speak with LAUSD Board Member Nick Melvoin about offering Hebrew in Los Angeles public Schools. Eden immigrated to the United States from Israel in November 2019. (Photo Courtesy: Israeli-American Civic Action Network)

ICAN has charted a course for the coming year that engages city councils, state capitols, and Congress with a policy agenda prioritizing combating antisemitism, fighting Holocaust denial, promoting cross-community engagement, and creating innovative partnerships between Israel and America. 

Whether you identify as Israeli, Israeli-American, or as an American of any kind, if you believe in creating change for a better America, free of hate and antisemitism, a more secure Israel at peace with its neighbors, and a stronger, deeper alliance between the U.S. and Israel, then ICAN is your Israeli-American advocacy organization.

About the Author
Dillon Hosier is the Chief Advocacy Officer at the Israeli-American Civic Action Network, an organization dedicated to empowering Israelis and Americans through advocacy education and civic action to combat antisemitism, fight BDS, and strengthen the U.S.-Israel alliance. Previously, he served for a decade as the Political Officer at the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles.
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