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.