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Wednesday morning at 5 a.m., over 20 Penn students will travel to Washington, D.C. to make their voices heard.

Penn Israel Coalition organized a trip to the nation’s capital to speak to legislators and advocate for issues related to Israel. Approximately 40 students and 40 adults from Philadelphia will participate in the event, according to College junior, PIC Co-President and Event Coordinator Seth Bluestein.

Groups from Drexel University, Temple University, Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College will join PIC, Bluestein said. A group of community members from the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia will also participate. This is the second year adults from the local community have been involved in the trip.

“They do a lot of lobbying themselves,” College sophomore and PIC Government Affairs Director Josh Belfer said. “Hearing from some of these people … gives students an outlook of what it is like if you want to continue to be involved” in Israel-related activism after college.

Bluestein said various topics will be covered throughout the day. The main issues, he said, include “the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran to the U.S., Israel and the rest of the world,” U.S. foreign aid to Israel and general U.S.-Israeli relations.

He added that many lawmakers end up explaining to students their support for Israeli-U.S. relations. “It’s not us lobbying them, but them lobbying us,” Bluestein said.

Belfer — who heads the Penn delegation of the trip — said this year, PIC targeted not only students who are active in Israeli advocacy on campus, but also those who have not previously been involved in activism and lobbying. The goal, Belfer said, is to “get a really diverse group of students.”

In Washington, the group will meet with U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) as well as other representatives. In the afternoon, students will split into smaller groups of four to five individuals and speak to congressmen or legislative assistants from their hometown congressional offices.

The “small, intimate setting” of these discussions will allow students to get “up close and personal” with representatives to discuss issues, Belfer said, adding that last year, it was the “highlight of a lot of the students’ trips.”

College sophomore and trip participant Abby Denburg did not participate in the trip last year, but has lobbied for pro-Israel issues in the past and hopes to gain more experience from this year’s trip.

“Someone once told me that lobbying once is an oxymoron,” she said. “So I take the opportunity whenever I can.”

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