In 2011 pressure was mounting in Israel for a two-state solution and our administration was working on a peace resolution. The message of America’s support to defend Israel became unclear in the media and the actions of the White House.
I had the pleasure of organizing a peaceful rally of Americans United with Israel that included the bipartisan support of both a Republican and Democrat keynote speaker: U.S. Congressmen Tom Price and John Lewis.
I will never forget when I called to ask for the participation of U.S. Rep. John Lewis. I spoke to his aide at the time and he requested detailed information about the event and other participants. I wasn’t expecting much but was hopeful for a yes.
During my years as a resident of the greater Atlanta area, I had seen the work and most notably, the respect within our city for him. I remember my amazement as I learned about the history of Lewis’ contribution to the civil rights of all Americans today. His dedication to the good fight and of course his mission of getting into “Good Trouble.”
I was so impressed with Lewis, yet decided that I should start looking for another Democratic member of the Congress to keep the balance of political representation of keynote speakers. I guess my first instinct was that Lewis was too busy standing up for issues of civil rights that he would not be interested in my mission to stand up for Israel’s right to defend itself against its enemies.
Two days later, I get a call from Lewis’ aide. He said to please hold for Congressman Lewis. I was shocked and delighted all at the same time. He got on the phone and we spoke for about 10 minutes. He wanted to know why I believed in Israel, what I wanted to accomplish by gathering members of our community at this rally.
Then he gave me his answer. He said that he would be honored to participate as a keynote speaker and went on to share his own belief in the importance of America’s relationship with Israel. Nothing I write to you in this column could ever fully describe how much more my own love and respect grew for Congressman Lewis that day.
It is my honor to share with you this video of Congressman John Lewis sharing how he felt about the American people’s responsibility to stand and support Israel and its people at the Georgia World Congress Center as a keynote speaker of the United We Stand rally on Aug. 14, 2011. This is how I remember Congressman John Lewis.