Posted by JewishJournal.com
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Roughly half of Congress, dozens of foreign ambassadors, and the president and prime minister of Israel were in attendance at the 2009 AIPAC policy conference here earlier this week.
The major annual gathering of the American pro-Israel community, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference proved to be a showcase for fervent declarations of opposition to the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran and for Israel’s quest for peace and security—though both Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) had some challenging words for the gathering about Israeli settlement construction.
JTA’s team was on the ground throughout the conference, filing several video dispatches (see Biden speech, Bibi analysis, and liberal Israel support), live blogging of major speeches (Biden, Kerry and Bibi), and even some words of advice for Vice President Joe Biden, in addition to our news and analysis
For a quick re-cap of the entire event, check out the video at left.
5.8.09 at 5:58 pm | Roughly half of Congress, dozens of foreign. . .
5.5.09 at 7:59 pm |
5.5.09 at 1:40 pm | At Sunday's opening plenary, speakers waited. . .
5.5.09 at 1:05 pm | President Peres thanked the 6,000 AIPAC activists. . .
5.4.09 at 8:57 pm |
5.4.09 at 7:46 pm | Recalling his trips to Israel, he cited images. . .
May 5, 2009 | 7:59 pm
Posted by JewishJournal.com
Photos by Michael Kovac.
May 5, 2009 | 1:40 pm
Posted by JewishJournal.com
At Sunday’s opening plenary, speakers waited backstage. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told Rep. Dennis Cardoza that he was proud to be running the city when last year’s ceremony was held to install the Israeli flag at the country’s Wilshire Avenue consulate. He also remarked that the flag is one of the only to be publicly displayed. The exchange “was sweet,” said Milken Community High School senior Samson Schatz, who prepared to go onstage, too, to introduce the AIPAC board. “It was a nice sentiment.”
by Hillel Kuttler
Jon Drucker is doing his part to recruit pro-Israel activists to attend AIPAC’s policy conferences. Two years ago, the LA lawyer brought two friends. In 2008, he took wife Julie. This week, their 16-year-old son Zachary and Zachary’s friend came. “I’d like to bring more. That’s how the influence of AIPAC grows,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s the enthusiasm of the attendees that brings more attendees.”
May 5, 2009 | 1:05 pm
Posted by Gelena Aleksandrovskaya
RINNNNNNNNNNNNG-my wake up call was calling. It was 7:30am on Monday morning and it was time to start the day. I laid in bed for fifteen more minutes before my phone alarm started going off followed by the VCR alarm and finally the clock alarm. Alright, alright, I’m up. I sheepishly dragged myself into the shower…30 minutes later (I get dressed fast when it come’s to hearing President’s speak) I was running down the stairs to catch the shuttle. I had fifteen minutes before Israeli President Shimon Peres spoke and I wasn’t going to miss it for the world.
President Peres thanked the 6,000 AIPAC activists for their dedication and involvement in the U.S-Israel relationship. “For 60 years,” he said, “America has been and still is more than just an ally - it is an unusual partner and a brave friend. I have heard it said, and I have heard it sung - today, more than ever - God bless America.” Peres wished success to President Obama and said the new American leader “offers hope to the world.”
I could not believe that I was sitting before the President of Israel speak 50 feet and 200 body guards in front of me. I wondered to myself when, if ever, I would have this type of opportunity again.
Speaking of opportunities I found myself talking, networking and taking pictures with some impressive political figures today.Joe Liberman and Gavin Newsom are just some examples of who I got to chat up. Shortly thereafter we headed over to the dinner reception. I was blown away by all 5,000+ people that were seated there eating dinner. How in the world were they able to feed and make food for this many people!? I wanted to go take a look at their oven just to see what it looked like but the staff would not let me into the kitchen…I wondered my way downstairs to the dessert reception and indulged in chocolate covered strawberries, cupcakes, pecan tarts, chocolate cream puffs, short bread cookies and anything else I saw that I could stuff my face with. Before I could even digest all the dessert I ate a group of us headed out to a bar called Posh.
In the midst of all the people squished upon one another, dancing, drinking, and talking I stood there taking in the scene. I understood now why everyone that’s ever been to AIPAC has said it was AMAZING. How could it not be? There I was sitting amongst 5,000+ people who all shared a passion, a belief, and were on a mission for Israel. When has anyone ever been in a room with 5,000+ people where you all had at least one thing in common? The energy was contagious. This has been a truly amazing experience indeed. The people I’ve meet, the new knowledge I gained and the experiences I have been exposed to while here have been priceless. Someone during the conference said that while growing up we were all asked “who do you want to be when you grow up?”. After watching all the speakers, AIPAC supporters, congress men and woman, and AISH supporters I now ask myself not what do I want to be when I grow up but WHO do I want to be as I get older (I guess at 23 I can no longer say “when I grow up”). I may not have the answer to that question exactly just yet but after watching all the speakers thus far I have an idea…I cannot wait to get back to LA and start working on finding the answer to that question…Lalel Tov for now…
May 4, 2009 | 8:57 pm
Posted by Jay Firestone
Photos by Michael Kovac.
May 4, 2009 | 7:46 pm
Recalling his trips to Israel, he cited images from Sderot’s “campus filled with bomb shelters”; teachers “unsure whether their schools or homes would be standing the next day.”
At a time when “fear reigns supreme,” he said, “it is more important than ever to protect the Jewish homeland ...Israel must and will remain a Jewish state (applause). “The U.S. Israel relationship is unbreakable.”
On Iran, he said that leaders of every single city and county “must steer clean of companies that do business with Iran” (applause).
Israel, he said, has a “friend in the city of angels.”
At the end of the day, anytime you’re looking for a true friend of Israel, don’t hesitate to call, I’ll always be there.”
Saying that Israel’s struggle in the Middle East echoes his own Hispanic community’s “struggle for civil rights,” “fighting for freedom,” he said that when it comes to the Jewish state, “my roots run deep” - from his mother, who “believed in diversity,” to teacher Herman Katz, who saw the potential in drop outs.
To watch the full video, click here.
May 4, 2009 | 7:32 pm
Posted by Larry Greenfield
Larry Greenfield is vice president and fellow in American Studies at The Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship & Political Philosophy
I have received very positive response at the AIPAC conference to my writings, read at (www.claremont.org) about the increasingly important issue of U.S.- Israeli Missile Defense.
Fortunately. the policy conference this year has presented 2 separate sessions on this subject, along with other speakers who have been focused on the short, medium, and long-range missile threats to the tiny Jewish state.
Specifically, AIPAC has organized and encouraged activists to work with congressional leaders like Rep. Mark Kirk to focus on American government defense funding for the next generation of technologies and joint projects that will not only help to defend against and deter Arab government and terror group threats, but also serve U.S. National Security interests as well.
The cause of peace and security requires that the enemies of a free Israel recognize that Israel will eventually be able to hit launched rockets and missiles over enemy territory. That may deter a future enemy assault and potentially keep the peace.
There is, unfortunately, a growing sense of nervousness at the conference, however, that the Obama administration is not on board with the strategic plan of pro-Israel activism.
Newt Gingrich’s plenary speech, to thunderous and standing ovations, properly cataloged the ideological hatred growing against the Jewish state in foreign capitals and at U.S. campuses, and at the UN, and amongst the far left blogosphere.
Decent citizens everywhere understand the rise of radical Islam, Jihad, shariah law infiltration into the west, and vicious propaganda that inspires a future generation of Islamic terrorism.
Activists are working on sanctions efforts to turn Iran around from their path toward becoming a nuclear power, an umbrella under which at minimum they would threaten both Israel and Sunni Arab states as well as Europe.
The Iranian issue is the key: Iran funds and trains Hezbollah and assists Hamas and works with Syria to ring Israel with arsenals.
And where is the Obama administration ? Weak on public support for Israel, bowing to Saudi kings, opposed to missile defense systems to protect Israel, hostile to Israeli arguments against huge American taxpayer funding of the Palestinian terror society, and bullying against Israeli suggestions that Iran must be isolated, sanctioned, and potentially preempted before they launch a regional nuclear arms race if not a nuclear-warhead- tipped shehab missile to destroy Israel.
Mr. Obama also played a dangerous game by attending the planning session of the Durban II conference (the hate Israel festival). This confused our allies who had long previously decided to boycott the entire process.
Mr. Obama has also decided that the US should join the notorious and Orwellian named UN Human Right Council.
Mr. Obama seems intent on lowering Israel’s qualitative military edge over her potential Arab adversaries, ending the special strategic and public partnership between the US and Israel, and placing engagement with Iran before preempting Iran as US policy.
If the Obama administration, which has turned away visiting Israeli officials, yet has repeatedly pandered to Arab states, and other enemies of freedom (Chavez, Ortega, et al) is nervous about Jewish support, however, they don’t seem to show it.
They instead have just decided, for all intents and purposes, to boycott the AIPAC conference. I have not seen a single Obama administration figure yet, and the conference is soon over.
Mr. Biden was scheduled to speak today and canceled. He may speak tomorrow.
But Biden, who recently warned Israel not to preempt Iran, and who has a long history of working against bipartisan sanctions against the tyrannical Iranian regime, has more than substantive problems with the pro-Israel community.
He has also been mocked for having told Americans not to fly.
Is he really our Vice President ?
If Mr. Biden finally does show, perhaps he will pander like Obama did last year.
Many remember how Mr. Obama retracted his support for a unified Jerusalem the very day after his speech to Aipac last year during the heat of the campaign.
Maybe the noted absence of Administration figures at the conference this year, then, says more than all the other speakers combined.
May 4, 2009 | 5:17 pm
Posted by Gelena Aleksandrovskaya
Phone Charger, check. Lap top, make-up, tooth brush, check. Business attire, seminar schedule, check. Jacket, shoes, shoes, and more shoes, C-H-E-C-K! I was packed and ready to embark on a educational, eye opening adventure…or so I was told. I have never been to an AIPAC conference before but everyone that I’ve spoken to has said that the conference is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G and powerful. Whenever I asked them questions to go into detail about what exactly was amazing about this conference they all answered “oh, you are just going to have to go for yourself, it’s A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!”. Hmmm. I’m not one to just take people’s word on things without experiencing it for myself first hand thus here I am sitting in LAX waiting to board flight 1446 (thank you AISH for granting me the privilege to attend) for my very first trip to AIPAC. I am excited to learn, meet new people, and hear different view points on topics related to Israel’s well being. We shall see just what exactly is sooo “AMAZING” about this AIPAC conference everyone keeps raving about…
Sunday, May 3rd 2009
Several long hours and back pains later our flight had arrived in Washington, DC. I was too tired to feel any sort of excitement and was anxious to get to the hotel room. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised when I arrived to the Marriott-the hotel we were staying at. Large beds, with soft comforters and plush pillows, flat screen TV and a marble floor in the bathroom and a closet large enough to fit all my shoes plus my roommates! I was not expecting anything this nice-thank you AISH! I took a quick shower and headed out to the convention center.
The first word I would use when I arrived at the convention center…overwhelmed. All I could see was a sea of people that all had orange name tags around their necks and were running in different directions. I made my way to the check in counter and got my badge.
The first lecture on my schedule was “How Congress Really Works: The Foreign Aid Bill as a Case Study”. What I learned from this class is that Congress does whatever Congress pleases. They even have a word for this; “Unanimous Consent”. Also known as we can do whatever we want as long as every single member of congress agrees.Someone asked if Unanimous Consent was part of the Constitution…It turns out the answer was No-Congress has created their own rules over the years. We covered the twelve subcommittees of congress and went over what’s in a foreign aid bill. Before I even had time to process all this information it was time for the next lecture.
“On the Airwaves: The United States, Israel and the West in the Arab Media”. I was shocked to see some of the video clips that were presented in this class. Children in the middle east are being trained to fight and kill Jews. Another clip showed thousands, maybe even millions of people chanting “Kill the Jews” after a political figure from Hamas spoke. These T.V stations reach millions of peoples homes worldwide. To see such messages being exploited scares me. We have a serious problem growing on our hands and it seems as though no one is able to take control of such media.
The conference ended that day with one of my favorite speakers thus far-Newt Gingrich. Mr. Gingrich discussed the importance of the U.S-Israel relationship and the threats the two countries face from Iran and other extremists. I have never heard a political figure state that we have a problem on our hands and he is certain that our former Administration was not capable of handling the problems at stake nor is he sure our current administration is prepared for what America has yet to face with our problems with Iran, Russia and North Korea. One statement that stuck out at me was this; “AIPAC is not just about Israel, AIPAC is about the American-Isreal Relationship, because the future of America and Israel are inextricably intertwined. A world which destroys Israel will certainly destroy the United States”.
Gingrich stressed the necessity of imposing strong sanctions on Iran and cutting off access to international oil markets. ““It was the deliberate driving down of the price of oil which bankrupted Gorbachev and the Soviet Union, and if we made the same strategy of deliberately driving down the price of oil, the Iranians would presently not have the money to subsidize terrorism around the world,” he said. The crowd stood up and cheered. If only it were that easy I thought to myself…
After the last talk I went back to my room with a couple of other AISH attendees to change into some going out clothing. I was dead tired but this was not the place to sleep. I changed into some heels, (shoe pair #21) true religion jeans, and a black long sleeved top. A big group of us headed out to a Thai restaurant around the corner from our hotel followed by a stop at the bar up the street. I didn’t stay for very long as Monday I heard would be jam packed day and I wanted to be at least somewhat rested.