Reporting from the Annual Policy Conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)
Rabbi Edwin Goldberg
March 3, 2014
I first attended the Policy Conference in 1983, as a callow college student. It was very impressive, with 1500 supporters of America and Israel crowded into the Capitol Hilton.
This year, there are 15,000 attendees. AIPAC is very savvy when it comes to production values as well as management at a conference, so the large crowd is inspirational, not a cause of ceaseless inconvenience.
Temple Sholom members in attendance include Richard and Gloria Reifler, Robert Gordon, and board member and tireless AIPAC advocate, Stuart Litwin. There are over 600 rabbis and cantors here as well, from all denominations.
Yesterday we heard a moving speech by Isaac Herzog, the new head of the major opposition party in Israel and we were treated to a rousing sermon by Pastor Chris Harris of our very own Chicago’s Bright Star Church.
I attended a screening of an upcoming film about American airmen, veterans of WWII, who risked their lives to create Israel’s Air Force as it fought its war of independence against an overwhelming in number enemy.
Today on the agenda we will hear Secretary of State John Kerry address us. (We also heard Treasury Secretary Jack Lew yesterday.)
Next year I hope to bring a large contingent of Temple Sholom members to AIPAC’s conference. Why? From its inception AIPAC has always been about taking the case of Israel’s right to exist and thrive to the American people not out of charity or moral debt but because Israel thriving is good for America. This lesson was made crystal clear to me in 1983. It is no less true now.
Indeed, what with irresponsible boycotts and Iranian manipulations of international agreements, the need to understand Israel’s case for American support has never been stronger.
So join me next year in DC, March 1-3! Hopefully, unlike today, it won’t be snowing!