Four of our Temple leaders attended the 2010 AIPAC Policy Conference. All found it to be a powerful experience. I asked Jay Rice to share a few thoughts. I thank him for doing so…
On March 21-23, Helene and Jack Fersko, Phil Hoch and myself attended the AIPAC Policy conference in Washington DC.
AIPAC is the Pro Israel lobby and advocacy group. Its immediate goals and mission are varied: to build support for the $3 billion in aid being proposed for Israel by the Obama admistration; to obtain congressional support for the toughest of sanctions against Iran so as to prevent that country from having nuclear capability, to fight the attempts by many to delegitimize Israel, and to support and sustain the US- Israel relationship.
This year’s main speakers included Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Charles Schumer, Senator Evan Bayh and Alan Dershowitz,.Despite the present impasse between the United States and Israel over construction in East Jerusalem, which differences were openly discussed by the speakers, each and every speaker was well received.
Many of the most memorable speakers were those far less well known. They included Knesset Member Shlomo Molla, who came to Israel from Ethiopia by walking hundreds of miles and by being airlifted by the Israeli Air force in the middle of the night. He came uneducated and without the ability to speak Hebrew or English. And now he is one of Israel’s leaders. There was Col. Richard Kemp who was Britain’s commanding officer in Afghanistan. Colonel Kemp has made it his responsibility to study the Israeli Defense Forces behavior in Gaza last year. He concluded “”The IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.” And there were a number of student leaders from all over the country (1,200 in all) who spoke of their efforts on campuses to fight the ever growing anti- Israel bias.
In addition to the speakers, there were dozens of breakout sessions covering a range of topics, too numerous to mention. For example, I attended; “Gaza Dilemma: The state of play in the Hamas- run Territory; Israeli settlements, Historic Overview, Modern reality”, and “Israel’s relations with the world.”
For those of us who went, the experience was crucial to our better understanding of Israel. I think we all have a clearer view of the dangers the threaten Israel’s very existence and that all of us can play a real part in preventing such a catastrophe,.
The four of us who attended found it to be a powerful experience. We look forward to attending with a far larger group next year.
Jay J. Rice, Esq.