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Connected for Good

By Michele Weiss 

AIPAC Policy Conference, boasting 18,000 participants, took place March 24-26 at the Washington Convention Center.  The theme for the conference was Connected for Good, double entendre intended.  The speakers, who came from all corners of federal, state and Israeli government, declared that the US and Israel are bound by the same values and ideals.  The two countries benefit each other in a symbiotic relationship with their desire to improve the world.

Looming over the conference was the ill feeling we had from Congresswoman Omar’s remarks shortly before the conference.  Every leader, both Republican and Democrat, denounced her remarks without naming her directly.  For example, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said to thunderous applause “there are 64 freshman Congressman, not three”.  Both Congresswoman Pelosi and Senator Schumer disparaged all anti-Semitic remarks particularly those in the halls of Congress.  Members of the administration also addressed the Conference including Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and the US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.  All of the them echoed strong US support for the State of Israel and the importance and permanency of the US-Israel relationship.

AIPAC continued to emphasize the bipartisan nature of and support for the US-Israel relationship.  To Congressman Hoyer’s point, some of those Democratic freshman Congressional representatives spoke at the Conference together with some of their Republican colleagues.  Each presentation showcased bipartisan representation.  For example, at the general plenary sessions, either Democratic and Republican counterparts in Congress or the Senate were featured together or a major leader of one party was featured immediately before or after a major leader of the other party.

The Conference showcased Israel’s continued leadership in innovation and technology in the world.  There were presentations on Israel’s innovative techniques with water conservation and agriculture.  The AIPAC Village, on the lower level of the Convention Center, housed an array of displays showcasing Israel’s innovations, including.  There was also a place for to do genetic testing with JScreen and experience virtual reality.  The Village also showcased Israel’s advances in the medical arena including displays by Red Mogen Dovid Adom, United Hatzolah, the medical clowns of Hadassah Hospital and, of course, SpaceIL.

One of the highlights of the program was Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech which was delivered from Israel via a satellite link. The Prime Minister had come to the United States to meet with President Trump and address the Conference.  Unfortunately, he had to return to Israel before he addressed the conference because of the rocket attacks that were launched at and near Tel Aviv. 

The Conference provided for breakout sessions on numerous and varied topics relating to American politics and policies toward Israel, Israeli politics, politics regarding Arab countries, Israeli innovation and technology, media coverage and Jewish identity, among others. The Conference enabled a deep dive into the alarming rise in anti-Semitism in the US and abroad.  However, during the plenary sessions and break out sessions, all government officials in attendance decried their unwavering support for Israel and Israel’s right to defend herself.

Shabbat starts Friday: 7:05PM
Shabbat ends Saturday: 8:06PM
Fri, April 12 2024 4 Nisan 5784