Shabbat Evening Service
From the desk of Rabbi David Lyon
AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), www.aipac.org, held their annual Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., this past week with nearly 18,000 delegates in attendance. By far one of the largest conferences in its history, it welcomed supporters of the American-Israel relationship from around the world. Why do I advocate on behalf of the American-Israel relationship through AIPAC?
First, the complex issues that surround Israel on its borders and its existential threats from abroad require an organization with a clear mission and multi-faceted forces to accomplish it. AIPAC is the largest lobby in North America that educates U.S. congressional leaders on critical issues related to the American-Israel relationship, and brings dozens of congressional leaders to Israel, annually. They provide information, data, and resources to secure the safety of America and Israel, as allies in the worst neighborhood in the Middle East.
Second, AIPAC gets results. Though AIPAC is regularly misunderstood as a right-wing conservative lobby, it is also a lobby that aims to appeal to left-wing liberals, too. Witness the hundreds of progressive rabbis and their congregants who attended the conference this past week. Though they and their right-wing colleagues may differ on social justice agendas, for example, they are bound together by a clear political purpose for Israel.
At Policy Conference this past week, the highlight, without question, was the appearance of and message by U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley. Her recent remarks about the U.S.’s support of Israel, and her command of our nation’s moral authority on the subject of Israel’s sovereignty, right to exist, and ally status, earned her the audience’s longest standing ovation. The Washington Post reported, “The crowd luxuriated in her heartfelt identification with the Jewish people as an Indian American and her reminder that, while she was governor, South Carolina became the first state to pass anti-BDS legislation. But it was her determination to go after the jackals at the UN, who single out Israel again and again for demonization and calumny, which won over the crowd.” She famously said, “I wear heels. It’s not for a fashion statement, it’s…ammunition.”
On the last day of the Policy Conference, thousands of delegates headed to Capitol Hill to attend scheduled meetings with their congressional leaders. In those meetings, delegates were ready with talking points about issues to secure the American-Israel relationship and to guarantee Israel’s well-being and future. Delegates were equally prepared to talk about making peace with its enemies and to dismantle obstacles to that peace; but, they were unwavering in their determination to reach peace without jeopardizing Israel’s right to exist and to defend its borders and citizens.
It’s been 50 years since the 1967 war. It was a time that galvanized Jewish American and other support for the tiny fledgling nation. In 2017, Israel is still tiny but now it’s a singular powerhouse of ingenuity and hope. From swamps to orchards, from Haifa oranges to hi-tech innovation second only to Silicon Valley, Israel is a miracle. With AIPAC’s role and our support, we can guarantee the miracle of Israel and the future of the Jewish people. If not now, when? Indeed.