Archives: FAQs

Step Six: Maintain the Relationship

It’s important to understand developing relationships with your members of Congress is a long term commitment. Your advocacy will be more effective if you maintain a relationship with your member over time.  

  • Be sure to monitor your member of Congress’ website to see if they are hosting events when they are back in state or district. Make a point of trying to attend an event.
  • If you get a Letter to the Editor published relating to Israel/Palestine or the Middle East, be sure to send a copy to the relevant staff member you met with. 
  • Consider inviting staff from the district or state office to an event with speakers from Israel/Palestine or the region. 
  • When you are in DC be sure to reach out to the office to let them know you are in town. Try to schedule a meeting during your stay. If Congress is in session, inquire with the office to see if the member is hosting any events for constituents. Many offices will have a weekly or monthly coffee/meet and greet with the member while Congress is in session. These events provide a great opportunity to stay in touch with members.

Step Five: Follow-up

  • Make sure to write a thank you card or send a thank you email to the person you met with during the meeting. When you build a relationship with staffers, they are more likely to prioritize your issues. Be aware: due to security precautions, there is a lengthy process to ensure all mail sent to government buildings does not carry any contamination. Email is always best, especially if the issue is time sensitive (for example, an upcoming vote).
  • Respond via email to any questions that you were unable to answer at the meeting. Alternatively, schedule a follow-up meeting if the questions were extensive and you would like to speak more about them in person. 
  • Suggest that the staffer/member attend upcoming briefings/hearings related to your cause (do research and provide dates/times of suggested briefings/hearings).

Step Four: Attend Meeting

  • Make sure your group is gathered and ready 20 minutes before the meeting. Confirm with the office how early before a meeting the group can check in. Dress business casual/professional. 
  • Thank the office for meeting with you. 
  • Introduce yourself, explaining any relevant faith/professional affiliations. 
  • Be clear about why you are meeting (your ask). Do you want your representative to co-sponsor a bill or sign a letter, or do you simply want to raise awareness on an issue? 
  • Explain why you care about the issue and tell your story. While it is important to have facts and statistics, nothing is more powerful than a personal story. If possible, try to connect these stories to something relevant to your particular state/district or the work of the member. For example, if you know the member is passionate about the environment or religious freedom, think of stories that might intersect with the member and their work.
  • Make sure to repeat the ask at least three times–there is power in repetition! You will want to mention the ask early on in the meeting, return to it during the middle, and then be sure to reiterate it once more before leaving. 
  • Respond to any questions that the office has. Leave behind any brochures or reading materials that may be relevant.
  • Exchange business cards, and let them know you will follow up.

Step Three: Prepare for Meeting

  • Research your cause, and be prepared with facts and statistics. Be aware of how your representative has voted on this issue in the past.
  • Come with a concrete ask. Members and their staff are busy, so it is always best when you have a very clear ask for your member. It can be related to an upcoming vote or a request to reach out to the State Department or the White House on a specific issue.
  • Confirm your meeting with the office a couple of days in advance.
  • If you are going with a group, assign roles: one person to introduce the group and the purpose for meeting, one person to take notes, one person to follow-up with a thank you and responses to questions. 

Step Two: Schedule a Meeting

Whether you want to schedule a meeting at your representative’s D.C. or local office, keep in mind:

Be politely persistent! Congressional offices receive countless calls and emails every day, so remember to follow up with your point of contact throughout the process of scheduling your meeting. Even if you are making an appointment in the D.C. office, your representative or senator is unlikely to attend. You will usually be meeting with a legislative staff member. Do not discount the importance of meeting with staffers; legislative staff have a good deal of influence and oftentimes more expertise on specific issues than your representative. Members of Congress rely on their staff to advise them on legislative issues, so staff-level meetings are always worthwhile.  For more advice on how to arrange D.C. and in-district meetings, you can consult the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) website.

Washington, D.C. Office

  • Congress is intermittently in session between September-July, so Members of Congress will be in their D.C. offices during those months. This website shows which days the House and the Senate are in session (Select the current Congress and click the “Days in Session” link). Before scheduling a meeting, confirm that your representative will be in D.C. by checking if Congress is in session. Consult your representative’s website to see how far in advance you should schedule your meeting.
  • Your representative’s website will typically indicate the best ways to make an appointment with them. Oftentimes you can submit a meeting request form through their website. When submitting a form, make sure you are very clear about why you are meeting and who will be at the meeting. 
  • If the office does not use an online request form, you should call the office and ask for the contact information of either the scheduler or the foreign policy staffer. Contact information for D.C. offices can be found on the Senate Directory website and the House Directory website. Your email to the scheduler or staffer should include your name, town, the reason for the meeting, the date(s) and time(s) you are available, and the names of people attending the meeting with you. The subject line of the email should read, “Constituent Meeting Request for [Date]” or “Constituent Meeting Request on [Reason for Meeting]”.
  • If you don’t hear back within a week, you can try calling the office directly. 
  • If you happen to be in DC and couldn’t schedule a meeting in advance, you can always drop into an office and ask to meet with a foreign policy staffer.

District Office

  • District or state offices can sometimes respond more promptly to mail and emails than their counterparts in DC. Typically, district or state offices can process written mail much quicker than DC offices. 
  • Members of Congress are typically in-district during the month of August and around the holidays. Check their status with your district office if you want to schedule a meeting while they are near your local office. Consult the member’s website to see how far in advance you should schedule your meeting.
  • Your representative’s website will typically indicate the best ways to make an appointment with them. Oftentimes you can submit a meeting request form through their website. When submitting a form, make sure you are very clear about why you are meeting and who will be at the meeting. 
  • If the office does not use an online request form, you should call the office and ask for the contact information of either the scheduler or a staffer. Your email to the scheduler or staffer should include your name, town, the reason for the meeting, the date(s) and time(s) you are available, and the names of people attending the meeting with you. The subject line of the email should read, “Constituent Meeting Request for [Date]” or “Constituent Meeting Request on [Reason for Meeting]”.
  • If you don’t hear back within a week, you can try calling the office directly.
  • District offices focus on different services than D.C. offices, and are typically designed to deal with constituent services. Because of this, many in-district offices don’t have a legislative portfolio. However, cultivating relationships with members of your district office is an effective way to advocate your policy positions. 

Step One: Research Your Representative

  • Look up your representative and senators. Be aware: websites such as WhoIsMyRepresentative.com do not always have the most up-to-date information.
  • Before meeting with your representative, it is good to know more about them and their career: how long they have served, whether they have announced plans for retirement, committee and caucus membership(s), voting records, leadership within their political party, religious affiliation, issue positions, and campaign finance records are all helpful information. This website allows you to see the voting records of all roll call votes (Select House or Senate > Session > “Roll” number next to the bill). Political Galaxy allows you to search by representative and view their biographies, voting records, issue positions, and campaign finance records. You can also consult the official website of your member to see which committees and caucuses they sit on, as well as their policy positions.

Statements and Op-eds

An Open Letter from Christian Clergy from the Bethlehem Area, July 7, 2020

Christian Leader letter to Republican and Democratic National Committees Urging Changes to Israel/Palestine section of Party Platforms, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), July 3, 2020

Opposing Israeli annexation, UCC and Disciples leaders amplify Palestinian ‘Cry for Hope’, United Church of Christ, July 1, 2020

Quaker Statement on Potential Israeli Annexation of the West Bank, American Friends Service Committee, July 1, 2020

Background and Rationale for Tell Congress to Say No to Annexation, Christian Reformed Church in North America, June 2020

Annexation Will Undermine Peace in Middle East, The Lutheran World Federation, June 29, 2020

ELCA Presiding Bishop Responds to Annexation Statement, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, June 18, 2020

ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton’s Letter to ELCJHL Presiding Bishop Azar on Annexation, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, June 9, 2020

27 Church Leaders Write to Congress opposing unilateral annexation of the Occupied West Bank, June 4, 2020

Liberation, not Annexation: A Statement and Pentecost Message from Bishop Azar, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, May 31, 2020

WCC and MECC Joint Letter to the European Union, May 11, 2020

A Statement by the Patriarchs and Heads of Holy Land Churches on Israeli Unilateral Annexation Plans, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, May 7, 2020

Opinion: Donald Trump Is Complicit in a Catastrophe for Christians, Munther Isaac and Jamal Khader, Haaretz, May 6, 2020 [May require subscription]

Resource Articles on Area C Annexation

Israel Annexation: New Border Plans leave Palestinians in Despair, BBC, June 2020

The human rights effects of Area C annexation, and in the article’s left margin is a link to a longer and quite comprehensive study on it.  Yesh Din,  2020.

Why Area C annexation (and the Trump plan) won’t work.  American Prospect, 2020.  

Netanyahu adopted Area C annexation in 2017 when he found it had Trump administration support, but he had written in his 2000 book that this was his eventual solution.  Haaretz, 2019.

Whatever the Trump plan says, at Revava in July 2019 Netanyahu laid out the Government of Israel’s four principles for Area C annexation  Haaretz, 2019

While most of Israel’s political leaders have endorsed some sort of annexation, support among Jewish Israelis is only just below 50 percent.  Haaretz, 2019.

Hanan Ashrawi on the Trump administration steps toward annexation. Washington Post, 2019.

Amb. Friedman on the Trump administration steps toward annexation, before plan was presented. Israel Hayom, 2020.

A roundup of differing opinions on whether international opposition will affect annexation. Times of Israel, 2020.

The US-Israel mapping commission is deciding what Israel will annex.  Times of Israel, 2020.

Secretary Pompeo saying that annexation is for Israelis to decide.  Jerusalem Post, 2020.

The Israeli coalition April agreement on July 1 annexation.  Jerusalem Post, 2020.

 “Will Israel’s New Government Pursue Annexation?” by Commanders for Israel’s Security (CIS) Nimrod Novik and journalist Tal Shalev. A long video analysis on Israeli annexation politics and how annexation would work on the ground for Palestinians and Israelis.  Ends with discussing U.S. funding for annexation. J Street, 2020.

Naftali Bennett and other settler reps began proposing Area C-only annexation in 2012. They did so in the Government of Israel from 2016.  Washington Post, 2016.

What is Driving Annexation Now?

  • Area C annexation became a mainstream idea in Israeli politics fairly recently, from just before the Trump administration.  Many Israelis oppose, as do Palestinians.  Enter Trump.
  • President Trump appointed his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to build a Plan with David Friedman (who became U.S. Ambassador to Israel) and Jason Greenblatt.
  • While they were working on the plan with PM Netanyahu’s Israeli government, the Trump administration set about removing other longstanding aspects from U.S. peace process policy.  They closed the Palestinians’ diplomatic office in the U.S., withheld first some and then all humanitarian and economic assistance to Palestinians, ended U.S. support for UNRWA that provides schooling and food to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza and across the Middle East, recognized Israeli annexations of the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, and moved the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.   
  • These moves pleased many Israelis as taking their side against Palestinians.  Then President Trump’s “peace” plan – – the economic part released in June 2019 and the political part in January 2020 – – fit Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Area C annexation ideas, and he and Israeli opposition leader Gantz endorsed Trump’s plan before Israel’s March 2 election.
  • That Israeli election essentially ended in a draw, and Gantz decided to join Netanyahu in a coalition government.  Their coalition agreement calls for Annexation to be presented to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, as early as July 1.
  •  As part of the Trump plan, in February 2020 the U.S. government formed a joint commission with Israel to map out what parts of Area C are to be immediately annexed by Israel.  Palestinians have no say, indeed ordinary Israelis have no say in the matter.

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