My son and I had the opportunity to attend the AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C. It was inspirational to be one of 13,000 people who while very different in many ways shared a sincere passion about the alliance between Israel and the US. While you/Rabbi Cohen have been consistent in your message about the importance of the US-Israel relationship, it is nevertheless awe inspiring to hear that same message from people who deal with the consequences all day, every day. In particular, hearing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could not have been more stark in bringing home the serious threats confronted by Israel. Whether you agree or disagree with his philosophies or strategies, one cannot dispute the facts he portrayed about the precariousness of life and security in Israel. The Prime Minister was one of the most powerful speakers I have ever heard and while he emphasized the importance of US-Israeli alliances, he also emphasized his view that Israel must sometimes forge its own way as, for example, in military action in Iran. I walked away from the conference thinking that it is not a matter of if we must use force to stop Iran from achieving its nuclear aspirations but when that force will strike.
Unfortunately, another observation from the AIPAC conference was its obvious use as a political platform for many of our own U.S. politicians to promote their own personal or parties political positions. As I understand it, AIPAC is apolitical in terms of political party affiliation so, to me, it was unfortunate to dilute the U.S.-Israel discussion with partisan politics. Perhaps this was unavoidable in an election year but it did detract from the true issues at hand and appeared very shallow in the context of such deep issues. It also made me question the sincerity of our politicians’ commitment to Israel, which concerned me about what would happen if it ever become politically unpopular to support Israel. I suppose that is why we, as Jews, must continue to stay active and let our leaders know where we stand on this important issue.
Another disappointing realizations was the extent to which the Media distorts the facts. Almost in real-time we heard speakers on one day and the next read reports that were grossly inaccurate, especially with regards to President Obama’s speech.
Overall, this was a tremendous and enlightening experience. It was particularly special for me as I was able to share it with my son, who will, hopefully, continue AIPAC’s mission. A number of speakers commented on the several thousands of students who were also participants. They are our future and it is up to us to set a model for them to follow.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to join other TSTI members in an unforgettable experience!