Wednesday, June 01, 2005

My Summation of AIPAC Policy Conference

OK, I've procrastinated enough.

First and foremost -- this was an incredible experience that I highly recommend. My mother saw my itinerary and immediately registered for the conference! The next one will be held in March, so start saving up for it now.

Each day was filled with knowledgeable speakers and fascinating forums. The forums I attended were "Beyond the Headlines: The Media and the War on Terror" and "Approaching Statehood: Are the Palestinians Really Ready." I will eventually do posts on both of these. Each day started anywhere from 8AM to 11AM and ended between 9 or 10PM, with only a couple of breaks throughout the day. On one break, I did something that was a ton of fun! My mom and I met one of our fellow bloggers -- Jonathan! And we didn't fight about disengagement once. He is a delightful gentleman, and my mother was quite taken by him. On the way back to the conference, she was making a mental list of women she wanted to set him up with. Watch out, Jonathan!

In addition to the forums, there were meals (please, don't go for the food--not easy to serve 5,000 people at once) served and then special speakers, like Natan Sharansky and others whom I've already posted about. During the meals, you can talk with the people, often strangers at first, from all over who are sitting at the table with you. It's a great chance to make new friends and talk about what's going on in the different areas of the country or the world. I met some terrific and very informed people.

One of the many amazing things AIPAC does is arrange for you to lobby your representatives on the Hill. Since there were too many people from my area, our reps came to us.

First up was Barbara Boxer. She mentioned that she is one of the only Jewish members on the Foreign Relations committee. Main points of her talk are the following. (Gindy, I know you can't wait since your love for Boxer is legendary-haha). She expressed thanks to the moderates for the getting the nuclear option off the table. She said she will tell Abu Mazen he needs to lead -- history will judge you. If he tells her all he wants [from the US], it will mean nothing if he does nothing. She said her first responsibility as part of the government is to protect us. The opportunity is the Middle East is one that we can't afford to miss [this was repeated by many over the conference--ed note]. She appreciates that AIPAC gives correct, full info. Others don't--they give skewed [I can go more in-depth with this if anyone is confused--ed note]. "Never Again" is something she heard all the time at the dinner table growing up. I think she lost a whole wing of her family in the Holocaust. She said that Sharon won't leave under fire so if that happens, pullout might not. She thinks if Israel gets out, and attacks still happen, it gives Sharon more moral standing when retaliating [admittedly her opinion].

I missed a lot of Dianne Feinstein (who was late due to a vote she had to stay for) because it overlapped with my next meeting. But her stand-in, her legislative director Peter Cleveland, said that Israel is our ally, friend...alter ego. He called him Abu Mazen [yes!], wants transparency within the PA and that the terror factions/networks must be dismantled.

Congressman Howard Berman has a perfect record on support for Israel, so it's not like he's a hard sell. But it's always necessary to thank your representatives for their support because you can bet they're receiving a lot of negative feedback for that support. He talked about many things but the most interesting thing I learned was that he really likes the Minister of Finance in the PA, Salam Fayyad. He says he's honest and is trying to break the back of the cartels there. His life is constantly in danger. You can read about his efforts here.


At 5:34 PM, Blogger Rachel Croucher said...

it's so hard to know what to say, it sounds amazing, and energising in a way, can't WAIT to hear more...

At 5:39 PM, Blogger beakerkin said...

I am glad you had a good time at the AIPAC summit. Yet our work is never done as the preponderance of anti-semitic trolls is endless.My latest one thinks Felis is a fan.

I think its odd they all run closed blogs or post anonymously.

At 5:46 PM, Blogger MissingLink said...

"My latest one thinks Felis is a fan."

Why would he think that?

I'll visit your lbog in a few minutes.
Perhaps I should keep on working on my sarcasm?
Great report Esther, I really enjoyed reading it.

At 7:54 AM, Blogger Batya said...

Waiting to hear.
Start with the best and the worst, and then fill in the middle.

At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Jonathan said...

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of meeting Esther in person, I can tell you that she is one terrific lady. And her mom is equally impressive. It was great having the opportunity to meet them both.

(Esther, even though we disagree about disengagement and J. Lo, we agree on so many other issues. I'm glad you got so much out of the AIPAC conference and had a safe trip.)


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