Our man in Congress?
Itamar Gelbman, an Israeli-American living in the U.S., may become the first Israeli serving in the U.S. House of Representatives • "The Israeli ticket is the basis of my campaign. The State of Israel enjoys broad support across the U.S., and it is time for this to be expressed in Congress," Gelbman says.
An Israeli in Congress? Republican congressional candidate Itamar Gelbman (right) visited Israel last month and met with MK Danny Danon (Likud).
Many members of Congress are acknowledged supporters of Israel, but the Jewish state may soon see one of its own serving in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Republican Party will hold primaries in Texas next week and among its candidates for Congress is Itamar Gelbman, an Israeli-American citizen who lives in the U.S. If elected, he will become the first Israeli to serve as a member of Congress.
Gelbman, in his early 30s, was born in the U.S. but immigrated to Israel as a child with his parents. He was raised and educated in Israel and completed his military service, earning the rank of lieutenant.
After completing his studies at Tel Aviv University, the young Israeli moved back to the U.S. and worked in real estate. He first tried his hand at politics two years ago when he ran for Congress in a California district. When he realized he had no chance of winning, he withdrew from the race, but retained his political ambitions.
Now, Gelbman is trying his luck again in Texas's 6th Congressional District, near Dallas. The area is populated by devout Christians and strong supporters of Israel. The overarching theme of his campaign is unwavering support for Israel, an obvious attribute of his being Israeli.
A few weeks ago, Gelbman visited Israel as a guest of World Likud chairman MK Danny Danon, who maintains extensive contacts with members of the Republican Party.
During the visit, Gelbman said, "I am Israeli in every way. The Israeli ticket is the basis of my campaign. The state of Israel enjoys broad support across the U.S., and it is time for this to be expressed in Congress."
Danon, who also spoke during the meeting, said, "Israelis are dispersed throughout the world, but there is one thing that always unites us — the connection to Israel. An Israeli member of Congress can contribute greatly to the state."
Danon added that if Gelbman were elected it would be a point of "Israeli pride in the U.S. Congress," and that within the framework of recruiting widespread support for Israel from congressmen and senators, the fact that an Israeli citizen may become a member of Congress could be an additional force to help strengthen bilateral relations.
If elected next Tuesday as a Republican candidate for Congress, Gelbman's path may be set to winning a coveted seat in the House of Representatives. Texas' District 6 does not have a Democratic Party representative, so in effect the battle for Congress takes place only between Republicans.
Elections for Congress will take place in November, together with the U.S. presidential elections in which incumbent President Barack Obama is expected to go head-to-head with presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.