“I constantly send ISRAEL21c articles to decision-makers and friends to show that there is more to Israel than just the conflict,” says Alan Franco, president-elect of the New Orleans Jewish Federation and an active member of local and national Jewish organizations including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

“We have a thriving democracy – the only democracy in the Middle East, and similar to the US in that it is made up of immigrants. We have a country that is an agricultural, economic and high-tech miracle. I try to highlight through ISRAEL21c pieces that in the middle of everything else going on, there are amazing things coming out of Israel.”

For nearly a decade, US congressmen and medical specialists have been among the frequent recipients of Alan’s forwarded ISRAEL21c stories. He particularly likes to pass along articles regarding agricultural and health advances in Israel.

Judging by the feedback he gets, these American politicians and physicians are not only reading the news items but acting on them as well.

“I know there have been conversations that have taken place between American and Israeli doctors based on these articles,” Alan says. “Some of most effective pieces I’ve shared are about Save a Child’s Heart.”

This Israeli-based international humanitarian project offers free treatment at the Edith Wolfson Medical Center in Holon for children with cardiac ailments from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and developing countries.

“Israel has cared for children from countries that don’t recognize its right to exist,” Franco points out. “And yet when a child has no other options, those countries look to Israel.”

Alan likes to help out Israel in other ways as well. As part of the New Orleans-Rosh Ha’ayin sister city program, he organized a chef mission to Israel this month “to highlight what I think is the most common denominator that brings people together — food. But there are so many common denominators between Jews and non-Jews, Israelis and Americans.”

Eager to point out those commonalities with different groups of people, including schoolchildren, Alan depends on ISRAEL21c to get the message out. “I think the site has great value,” he says. “That’s why I’m happy to support it.”