My Experience at the AIPAC Policy Conference
Ron Perets '18
AIPAC, or the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is a pro-Israel citizen lobby group that aims to increase support for Israel in American politics. AIPAC meets once a year in Washington DC to educate citizens on the hardships currently being faced by Israel and teaches them how they can be a voice in helping maintain stable U.S.-Israeli relations.
I attended the conference this year in attempt to gain insight on how pro-Israel Americans are dealing with the excessive scrutiny Israel has received in recent years. The AIPAC conference attempts to show Israel as a country that can do no wrong, and as a beacon of hope in a repressive and intolerant middle east. While this view isn't necessarily wrong, the extremely high praise given to Israel is excessive and in some ways bizarre. While I agree that Israel is a wonderful country full of wonderful people that is demonized by the media excessively for its faults, Israel is far from perfect and AIPAC’s attempt at making Israel seem perfect is probably doing more harm than good.
Keith Denning '18 and Ron Perets '18 catch up with old friends at a reception at Hillel International's headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The conference involved different sessions that attendants could participate in, some were serious, such as combatting the BDS movement on college campuses, while others less so, such as a cooking demonstration by Israeli food journalist Gil Hovav. The main attraction was a series of general sessions that involved speeches by prominent figures in politics, such as: Joe Biden, Paul Ryan, Benjamin Netanyahu, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and Donald Trump. The speeches given by these figures called for stronger American-Israeli relations but offered little in terms of actual ways to strengthen that relationship. Ultimately, attending AIPAC felt more like an attempt to demonstrate Israeli greatness than to provide citizens with the tools necessary to rectify the injustice done to Israel through disproportionate scrutiny by the media, political organizations, and foreign governments.