Several years ago, the lower level of the Walter Washington Convention Center in our nation’s capital displayed, in vivid props and models, the process and timetable Iran was using in its quest to formulate military grade nuclear capabilities.
The display was daunting and perhaps prophetic. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) virtually showed its thousands of attendees and the world, for that matter, the existential threat Iran posed to Israel and the West if it wasn’t stopped.
This coming Sunday, March 20, through Tuesday, March 22, over 15,000 supporters of Israel will again meet at the very same Convention Center in Washington, D.C. to take on the issues of importance regarding Israel, its security and prosperity and its important relationship to the U.S. and the world.
It is the nation’s largest pro-Israel get-together. Over two-thirds of U.S. Congress members attend. Over 3,600 students from 630 universities are expected, with nearly 300 synagogue delegations coming.
The AIPAC Policy Conference has been a place where Jews representing a diversity of denominations, political, social and economic backgrounds as well as gentile friends of Israel congregate. This year, the U.S. Presidential election will appropriately take center stage.
Democrat Party front-runner Hillary Clinton is scheduled to address the Conference as well as Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, a particularly divisive character who appears to be succeeding in his quest to be the Republican standard bearer.
We all know that the both the Democrat and Republican primaries have involved, at times, heated debates. But the attention given to Mr. Trump, who has said he’d want to enter the presidency as a neutral party in any Israel-Palestinian discussion, and the support he’s received from racist and anti-Semitic extremists such as David Duke, at one time the face of the KKK, has drawn its share of criticism certainly from Jewish Democrats, but also from Jewish Republicans. We have also heard classless heckling and even seen deplorable physical violence covered by national network and cable news companies, not to mention on social media at various political rallies.
Still, at Policy Conference, as it is called, we strongly suggest that those in attendance listen with rapt attention and respond only at the highest levels of courtesy and dignity for these candidates even if their comments cause disagreement. The candidates have political baggage, as most do. But neither the candidate nor the party should stop us from showing that when the last vote is counted, we as a faith-based community will be there to support the newly elected President of these United States. The presidential candidates should leave AIPAC knowing that the American Jewish community will strongly and loyally support the new White House Administration when it comes to the security of the State of Israel and peace in the Middle East.
Several years ago, AIPAC was correct in its concerns over Iran. Now we need to be correct in our posture and reception of the people who could be facing off soon for the Presidency.
In the coming year, all of the candidates will hopefully remember just one noise they heard at AIPAC: the applause.