By Adam Schmitz ’19
In May, I traveled to Israel along with a 10-person team from the Peace and War Center to conduct a field study concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although this study contained elements from the Israeli, Palestinian, and international perspectives, my duty on the team was to gain an understanding of the Israeli view. During the planning phase of this process, I made wonderful contacts and was given incredible opportunities.
In April, I was invited to attend the annual American/Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) meeting. During a four-day trip down the East Coast, I met with and saw several influential figures within the Catholic Church and both the Israeli and U.S. Government. Throughout my journey, I learned a lot, not just about the policies regarding the Middle East, but the willingness of people to talk with you if you demonstrate an interest in their opinions and perspectives.
During the first leg of my trip, I had the opportunity to meet with Cardinal Dolan, the archbishop of New York, along with Cardinal Burke who was visiting from Rome. I was welcomed not only into St. Patrick’s Cathedral but also the Cardinal’s private residence. During our brief meeting and lunch, Cardinal Dolan and I spoke about topics ranging from my upcoming trip to Israel to our unwavering support of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Next, I traveled south to Washington, D.C., for the annual AIPAC policy conference, which hosts some of the most influential people in the US and Israeli governments. During my two-day tour of the conference, I was able to meet an amazing amount of people and hear them speak about their support of the Israel-U.S. relationship. These speakers included Prime Minister Netanyahu, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, House Minority Leader Pelosi, Senator Schumer, and Vermont Representative Welch.
When I approached a new contact or a group of people, I did so with an open mind. I did not always agree with what they had to say, but their opinions provided additional insight into the Israeli perspective of the conflict and world affairs as a whole. This trip was the first stepping stone of my field study in Israel this past May.