Friday, May 8, 2009
AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington DC
For those of you who don't know, AIPAC is the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee. It's the largest pro-Israel lobby in America and has brought in guest speakers like Barack Obama (I'll take what I can get), Bill & Hillary Clinton, and George W. Bush.
The Policy Conference is spread over the course of three days. It's primarily made up of lectures in Israel advocacy, and is hosted in the Washington Convention Center (an em-effing hayooj building) in DC. I attended lectures on the sort of language to use when advocating for Israel and the threat of Islamic radicalism to the world. I had scheduled a lecture addressing why Christians are so faithful to Israel, but I ended up going to see the monuments and memorials (Washington, Lincoln, WWII, etc.) instead.
Each day was started off early in the morning with a formal seminar in the main ballroom, less than half of which easily held over 7,000 Zionists, both Jewish and goyim. Shimon Peres himself came to speak to us on the second day before his visit to the White House the next day. Benjamin Netenyahu spoke to us live via satellite at a gala that same night, 3 AM Israel time. John Kerry and Joe Biden spoke the following morning amidst a visit from over half of Congress and half of the House of Representatives.
The third day ended with everyone travelling to Capitol Hill to lobby their senators for support for 2 bills:
1) Imposing sanctions on any US company that does business with Iran (to stop their nuclear bomb)
2) Giving $2.775 billion in foreign aid to Israel (less than 1% of the foreign aid budget)
While in Capitol Hill, I met the CEO of computer gaming giant Blizzard, Michael Morhaime. Needless to say, I was more than a little surprised to shake his hand at a pro-Israel lobby meeting.
The experience was amazing, to say the least. I was able to experience Washington DC and its gorgeous architecture for the first time and made a lot of important contacts, including those of congressmen. I highly suggest going next year. AIPAC helps pay the cost of the trip, hotel, and conference registraion costs (a total that can run as high as $750) for college students it has noticed making a commitment to the pro-Israel community.
More importantly, though, the conference was soothing for the soul. As someone who has to deal with anti-Israel rhetoric almost daily, being around 7,000 Zionist delegates and seeing Joe Biden speak in support of us did wonders for a tired and worn dedication. We're not alone.