Mark Langfan is a New York attorney who has a passion for presenting Israel’s case. He has created a three-dimensional topographical map with overlays to explain the implications of topographic strategic height and depth on Israel’s security.
For 20 years he’s been traveling with his maps, briefing senators and congressmen and their staff.
“Senators and Congressmen; I walk into a staff office. It is scary,” Langfan tells The Media Line. “They say, ‘We don’t want you to think we’re stupid, but we don’t know anything. You have to start from really just, what is the West Bank? Where is the West Bank?’ They just don’t know anything.”
He barrels into the office with two huge bags containing maps and posters, which he spreads across the table.
Langfan, 52, believes that by using a three-dimensional map and other visual tools, he can explain Israel’s need to maintain a hold on land and the aquifer in Samaria, the Jordan Valley and the Judean foothills.
“It’s plexiglass pieces. It’s overlays. It’s graphics. It’s sort of a whole package system where people can if they want learn more,” he says.
He uses the three-dimensional maps to explain how the deep Jordan Valley was a natural border and how it needed to be connected via a land bridge to Israel’s central plane across the West Bank highlands.
To those who hold that Israel is no longer of strategic value to the United States, Langfan draws a scenario of the region without the Jewish state. Cradling a poster of the eastern Mediterranean, Langfan suggests that Egypt has control of what was once southern Israel, subduing Jordan and creating a land border with Saudi Arabia.
“I ask a simple question. Is this bringing lower gas prices? I gave a presentation in October to the Republican study committee. There were 60 staffers and 6 congressmen. When I asked that question after I showed this, they gasped. The room gasped because they couldn’t believe that this is a likelihood and that this shows that without Israel gas prices would probably be even higher and you’d have even more instability,” Langfan says.
Mark Langfan has brought his maps to Israel where he is expected to brief legislators in the Knesset. He says he has no intention of teaching them anything about Israel, but rather wants to show them a different way to present Israel’s case.
“What I am hopefully doing is going to teach them a new way that they could possibly teach other people in a simple clear way what is going on. And my system is really an explanation system as well as a briefing system,” he says.
His system, however, seems a bit anachronistic. With its bulky plastic overlays, it’s almost as if it belongs to the pre-PowerPoint era. Some of the relief maps are slightly damaged and taped together.
“In a way it is a little bit old-school, but at the same time I hope to be putting a lot of my graphics on two minute or three minute videos, especially my strategic graphics. It’s part of a work in progress,” Langfan says.
A self-promoter, he is accompanied by a public relations specialist. He says he is motivated by the sense that Israel is facing an existential threat.
“What I have done is to create a little chess game that the power people in Washington can communicate with,” he says.