After serving in Congress for nearly 20 years, U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah of Philadelphia made his first visit to Israel this week.
The Democrat spoke on Oct. 14 at Israel’s first International Brain Technology Conference, which was held at Tel Aviv’s refurbished port.
Funding for research on brain diseases has become one of Fattah’s top priorities in office.
“The time is now — to invest, to research, to collaborate, to focus. We must engage on every level when it comes to brain research and technology, and there has never been a more opportune moment in history than today,” Fattah said, according to a text of his keynote address.
“The possibilities are endless, but we know this much: Making headway in brain science will affect millions of people, and will have an enormous economic impact as well,” he added, praising Israel for its commitment to brain science research.
Fattah also had a one-on-one meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres during which they discussed ways Israel and the United States could further collaborate on research.
During their one-on-one meeting, Peres and Fattah discussed their parallel efforts to elevate brain research as a priority in Israel and the United States.
“The highlight of the trip was the extraordinary meeting I had with President Peres. He is a historic figure and it was a great honor to engage over our shared passion for brain research,” Fattah said. “We agreed that the work of our two nations to champion brain research is in service to all humankind.”
Fattah is known as a reliable supporter of military aid to Israel, though he has, at times, frustrated some supporters by signing congressional letters that have been backed by J Street, the controversial dovish lobbying group for Israel.
Fattah said that when he first planned the trip, Congress was not expected to be in session. But with the government shutdown and the potential for key votes to come up at any point, Fattah decided to spend just two days in the country.
Fattah said he never considered canceling the trip.
“The work I am engaged in is so very important to the United States,” he said.