For the third time in as many years, I attended the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., this week. I have said it before and I’ll repeat it now: if you have never attended the policy conference, you are missing out. You are missing out on the most supportive bipartisan experience imaginable. You are missing out on being together with 18,000 fellow supporters of the
US-Israel relationship. You are missing out on speaker after speaker pledging their support of this relationship. You are missing out on meeting people just like you, and people vastly different from you, all united for a single purpose.
The policy conference is a three-day experience like no other. Children attend with their parents; parents attend with their adult children and grandchildren. Friends and strangers from communities around the nation and the world attend together. It is an opportunity to rekindle relationships forged at conferences past, and begin relationships based upon a shared belief that the US-Israel relationship is important and must be supported.
There are speakers by the dozens and hundreds: speakers at the twice-daily general sessions, and speakers and presenters at the many breakout sessions held during the days. Those breakout sessions are offered on myriad topics, enabling everyone to find something that interests them, from current Israeli politics to the media’s treatment of Israel, to Israel’s relationship with different countries, to campus engagement and anti-BDS, and more. It is next to impossible not to find something that interests you.
Then there is AIPAC Village, basically its own event at the center of the conference. There is food for purchase, breakout sessions presented there and live music, but it is so much more than that. There are stations where you can get swabbed by Gift of Life, examine the mechanics behind the Iron Dome, learn about Israeli advances in cancer research, meet Israeli innovators and entrepreneurs and so much more. For high school students there is a college fair, where many colleges and universities are represented, displaying their support of Israel and the US-Israel relationship for prospective students. On the first night, after the evening general session, there is the AIPAC Village Festival, where the atmosphere is relaxed and entertainment is the focus.
The conference is a time to reflect: on the history of Israel, the relationship between Israel and the US and why that relationship is important. The speakers and presenters are there to tell you why the relationship between our two nations is important for the world, but you can and should use those three days to reflect on why the relationship is important to you, and why you continue to personally support it. You are given the opportunity to confidently reaffirm your support for the relationship between the country in which we live and the nation in which our hearts live.
When my husband attended the annual conferences for years before I finally joined him, I didn’t realize what I was missing. Now I only wish I had gone sooner. I invite you to join me next year.