AIPAC Policy Conference Jacob Berman '16 & Craig Shapiro '15

Washington and Lee sent student representatives to The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference for the first time this past March. Jacob Berman '16 and Craig Shapiro '15 joined thousands of other students from hundreds of universities, day schools, and youth groups In Washington. The conference was rich with speakers as professionals and politicians came from around the world to share their insights. Demonstrations of inventions like Dr. Amit Goffer's ReWalk, which allows paraplegic persons remarkable mobility, demonstrated the significance and importance of a strong American-Israeli relationship.

There were informative sessions held throughout the conference which were hosted by students, experts and ambassadors. Attending these lectures helped the delegates gain a more complete understanding of the current situation and status of the state of Israel. Some of the sessions attended by Washington and Lee delegates included Israel's economic relationship with China, leadership on campus against divestment from Israel and Israel's political relationship with North Africa. Along with the serious focus on Israel, there was a beautiful gala that featured prominent Jewish musicians and entertainers for all delegates to enjoy.

The policy conference concluded with attendees visiting every congressional representative to lobby on Capitol Hill in favor of pro-Israel legislation. First, AIPAC delegates were grouped by state to hear their senators' platforms and stances on Israel, then state delegations were subdivided to do the same process with local representatives. Lobbying was the pinnacle of the conference as it proved that the US-Israel relationship can only be maintained through action.

The opportunity to meet so many other students was enlightening, but the message we learned from them was unfortunate. In speaking with multiple student-body presidents, other campus representatives and Jewish undergraduates from all over the United States and Canada we realize how lucky we are to face virtually no anti-Israel sentiment as students at W&L, and we are proud to be a part of such an accepting community.