Op-Ed by Jessica Horst
With almost two-thirds of the United States Congress and numerous international leaders are confirmed to speak on Israel-United States relations, anticipation is growing among the 47 American University students joining more than 18,000 people attending the second day of the 2019 American Israel Public Affair Committee (AIPAC) policy conference today. The American University delegation will join over 3,600 students representing about 630 universities across the United States.
Attendants are expecting an eventful, invigorated conference given the occurrence of events such as Ilham Omar’s controversial tweet, the Trump administration’s recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, and more recent Israel-related news. Multiple United States Democratic presidential candidates, including Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris, announced on Thursday that they will not attend the 2019 AIPAC conference in response to the liberal advocacy group MoveOn call to skip the conference because of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric
As the 2019 Israeli elections are rapidly approaching, attendants are eagerly awaiting speeches from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the challenging candidate Lt. Gen. Benjamin “Benny” Gantz. The conference will also feature speakers such as Ambassador Nikki Haley, Vice President Michael Pence, Representative Nancy Pelosi, Senator Charles Schumer, and other leading politicians on Israeli-United States policy.
Incorporating more than just political addresses, the largest gathering of the pro-Israel community in the United States, the conference will exhibit the full scale of Israel activism also including innovation demonstrations, inspirational performances, immersive education sessions, and more. Personally, this will be my first time attending an AIPAC policy conference, and I am excited to experience the hub for Israel-education on the expo floors. Students also have access to a variety of workshops on Israel advocacy on campus and networking events throughout the conference.
Student Israelity writer Jackson Pincus said, “I attend AIPAC for two simple reasons. One, the networking opportunities are unmatched in the world of Israel advocacy. I’ve met important figures ranging from ambassadors to activists, politicians to professors and other educators. These figures show the true meaning of leadership, expose me to a broad swath of different ideas, and allow me the space to question their beliefs if they conflict with mine. In this way, I continue improving my own ability to defend my ideals both in the Israel Advocacy sphere and beyond. The second reason I come to Policy Conference is that as a college student, I want to learn from the best, hone my own advocacy skills, and broaden my knowledge of Israel and its place in the world. Those I meet and connect with help me do that by sharing their own knowledge, growing my network, and passing on tricks of the trade that help me do my job as an advocate for Israel better than I could have otherwise.”
"My opinion of AIPAC is that I am proud that an organization such as AIPAC exists. I think AIPAC does great work making sure that the US Israeli relationship is as strong and as indispensable as it is. In terms of what I’m most excited for would be the atmosphere of AIPAC with the upcoming elections happening and Netanyahu and Gantz coming. I’m also excited about the interesting breakout sessions and congressional speakers," said Student Israelity team member Gabrielle Chishinsky, " Its also an interesting point that AIPAC's CEO advocated his support for the two-state solution last year, which is highly supported by many American Jews and particularly more democrats but AIPAC is hosting voice to officials who do not support the two-state solution or omit it from their rhetoric ."
The 2019 AIPAC policy conference will be hosted from Sunday, March 24 through Tuesday, March 26 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.
Visit the official AIPAC website to view the full conference schedule.
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Jess is from New Holland, Pennsylvania and a senior in the Kogod School of Business. Jess is the co-founder and website manager of Student Israelity. As a program assistant at the Center for Israel Studies, She often covers Israel education announcements and events for the blog. Jess is the 2018-19 Hasbara Fellow on campus, and recently returned from a three-month stay in Israel.