Sunday, March 24, 2019

Pardon the cliché, but as the saying goes, “What a difference a year makes!”

As we approach the annual AIPAC Policy Conference that will attract thousands of delegates from all over the U.S. and the world, the goals and focus from last year will be dramatically obvious.

Last year, with the exception of candidate Bernie Sanders, AIPAC participants heard a speech from every invited candidate. Because last year’s confab occurred around Purim, there were many comparisons of Israel to ancient Persia and its heroine Queen Esther. Indeed, few of us can forget how beautifully Texas Senator Ted Cruz pronounced the word “Purim” while Hillary Clinton was still calling it “Pure-im.”

But that’s really nitpicking, we suppose. Because at the time of the AIPAC Policy Conference, there was still great uncertainty that of all the candidates, Donald Trump would emerge and go on to become our 45th president.

This year, obviously, the emphasis isn’t going to be on how much more pro-Israel one candidate might be than another.

Indeed, this time around, AIPAC has done its best to bring in strong voices from both sides of the aisle, with the likes of Vice President Mike Pence and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-5-MD), the House Minority Whip, and a long-time friend of Israel.

Three major issues expected to be covered include sanctions against Iran and the undoing of the Obama-influenced nuclear deal, the BDS issue and the lobbying on Capitol Hill in Congress for further future American aid to Israel.

Democrats won’t be looking to completely undo the P5 + 1 deal reigned into reality by Obama. Yet, there is discussion that some sort of limited sanctions would be considered by Congress. This is what AIPAC is hoping to rally around at this year’s D.C. conference.

AIPAC will be backing a Boycott, Divestment and Sanction action based on legislation put together during the last congressional session by Sens. Bob Portman, R-Ohio and Ben Cardin, D-MD. Their bill would extend 1970s laws that made it illegal to participate in the Arab League Boycott of Israel to the BDS Movement.

Clearly, though, the major characteristic of this year’s policy conference, besides the hard work that we expect will get done, is that this time around, the year after a hotly contested election, the focus of both Democrats and Republicans won’t be on candidates, but instead be where it should be, on Israel.

This is the focus we want and need, especially during a time when the shadow of terror cast by Iran extends to Israel’s enemies Hezbollah and Hamas.

Support of Israel as well as the global rise of anti-Semitism should take center stage in D.C.

It’s never been more important and imperative.