Photo Collection Curated by Jessica Horst and Ksenia Novikova
Three days later, I am still processing the intense experience of attending my first AIPAC policy conference in Washington, DC alongside 47 other American University students and over 3,600 students representing other universities. An eventful conference, I hope to share more opinion pieces on the political speeches and feature pieces on the expo of Israeli innovations hosted at the policy conference later this semester.
For now, here’s a look at the experiences of the American University student delegation and some of our friends from universities across the country who also attended the AIPAC 2019 policy conference!
From the constructed shuk in the AIPAC village to the massive floor-to-ceiling digital panels on the main stage, the conference setup was extraordinary. Part of the fun was getting disoriented in the conference halls and chance meeting notable guests!
About to leave the AIPAC policy conference on Tuesday, I was surprised to meet the United States Ambassador to Israel, the Honorable David M. Friedman, who spoke earlier that morning.
In the AIPAC Village on Monday, I was checking out the Israeli innovation booths and turned around to quite a surprise. United States Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) , was making his way around to the tables as well! Representative Crenshaw later addressed the conference hall with Representative Elaine Luria (D-VA), Representative Susie Lee (D-NV), Representative Denver Riggleman (R-VA), Representative David Trone (D-MD), and Representative Tim Burchett (R-TN).
Labscapes is an art exhibit curated by Anat Har-Gil, a creative Technion Computing and Information Systems Department team member. All images display the natural world we rarely get to see. This exhibit is entirely of the microscopic world!
Visit the Technion YouTube channel to see the full collection.
The Arab-Jewish branch of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, SheshBesh, performed between numerous sessions at the AIPAC policy conference. Performing an array of music for the audience, SheshBesh impressed me with their stylistic versatility.
Later, the American University Center for Israel Studies hosted SheshBesh to perform on campus. "The SheshBesh ensemble’s onstage presence and repertoire are a living metaphor for people striving to coexist. Their performances reflect their belief that the language of music binds hearts and builds a real bridge between peoples," said the Center on Facebook, "The ensemble performs traditional Oriental material alongside works by classical Western composers; an ancient “Mouwashah” from Moorish Spain paired with a Bach violin Partita, a Mozart aria with a folk-song by the legendary Fairouz of Lebanon, and original compositions by both Jewish and Arab composers."
The campus performance was made possible by the generosity of the Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation, partnership with the Greater Washington Forum on Israeli Arab Issues, and event co-sponsorship with the Department of Performing Arts.
Student Israelity Outreach Coordinator Ksenia Novikova also attended her first AIPAC policy conference this year and said, "I attended AIPAC because I find Israel fascinating. I wanted to hear from leaders in the movement for a stronger Israel-U.S. relationship. It was a very meaningful experience to learn about Israeli innovation, culture, and politics."
This photo is of Ksenia Novikova and Jessica Horst finally catching up together after a day of back-to-back advocacy sessions.
Jackson Pincus is a senior at American University finishing his undergraduate degree in international studies and an intern for the David Project on-campus. A regular writer on the blog, check out some of his recent work such as ""Today, I wore a Kippah", "The Druze and The Jews", "Tel Aviv Pride", and more on his personal blog.
As mentioned last week, Jackson attends AIPAC for the unmatched opportunity to network with an international pro-Israel community and to learn from leading Israel advocates in diverse fields such as politics, economics, sociology, and business.
"I’ve met important figures ranging from ambassadors to activists, politicians to professors and other educators," said Jackson, "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."
Captain Ofer Erez (Res.), the first openly transgender soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, with Jackson at the AIPAC policy Conference.
Since 2017, Erez has served as the CEO of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, a non-profit organization founded to provide supportive services to the Israeli LGBT community. As the only LGBT health resource in Jerusalem, the facility provides the city with free, anonymous care to all citizens.
Dr. Einat Wilf, former Member of Knesset for the Labor Party (2010-2011) and Independence Party (2011-2013), currently a leading public intellectual.
Later, Dr. Einat Wilf joined the American University Center for Israel Studies on Tuesday night for a discussion on women in politics with Tamara Wittes of the Brookings Institution. "Wilf contended that one finds women in Israel who actually inhabit three centuries - the 20th century (equality is accepted but not implemented), the 10th century (prevalent in the two minorities comprising Haredi Jews and the Arab minority), and the 21st century, reflecting the rise of women to power. An example of this is that nearly a third of the 120 member Knesset (parliament) are women. This is better than the United States, Canada, the UK and France," the Center Reflects, "The conversation ranged from the role of women in the workplace, to religious views of women, to attire, to the women active in party politics today. According to Wilf, the most powerful woman in politics today in Israel is Ayelet Shaked."
Jackson also met the Honourable Anthony Housefather, Member of Parliament for the Liberal Party representing the riding of Mount Royal in Montréal, Québec, and current Chairman of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights,
Additionally, Jackson greeted the Honourable Erin O’Toole, Member of Parliament for the Conservative Party representing the riding of Durham east of Toronto, Ontario, and current Official Opposition Critic for Foreign Affairs.
At the AIPAC LGBT reception, Jackson met Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), former Chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Also at the AIPAC LGBT reception, Jackson met Likud party Member of Knesset Amir Ohana, the first openly gay Likud MK.
"My name is Hayley Nagelberg and I am a graduating senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. I am studying animal sciences and social work and hope to make my future career incorporating animals into therapeutic settings for children with special needs and veterans with PTSD. I have been involved in pro-Israel advocacy since high school, and have worked with many different organizations including CAMERA, Hasbara, and AIPAC. On campus, I am currently the president of our AIPAC trained student organization Illini Public Affairs Committee (IlliniPAC). This year's AIPAC Policy Conference was the 6th I attended! When I started attending 6 years ago I was the only one in my family to go, but now it has become something my parents and grandparents come to as well which is incredibly meaningful to me. This year's Policy Conference was especially important for me to be with my family, as this summer after I graduate I am planning on making Aliyah and enlisting in the IDF. "
On her Instagram, 2018 Hasbara Fellow Daniella Harari said "Always grateful to have the opportunity to attend the AIPAC conference, meeting inspiring figures in both Israel and America and learning how to be active in our community." Also the Vice President of ShalomFIU Daniella represented the Florida International University student delegation. Daniella said, "I attended AIPAC because as an Israel activist, I wanted to learn more about the U.S-Israel relationship and its importance. It was an amazing experience getting to meet inspiring leaders and learning how to be more active in my community."
Allison Eisenhart (Class of 2021) is completing a Justice & Law major, member of the SPA Leadership Program, and is the president of the American University Christians United for Israel group. Allison said, "I attended AIPAC because I wanted to learn more about the significance of the American-Israel relationship and develop more interfaith relationships."
When asked why he attended the 2019 AIPAC policy conference, Josh said, "I'm still learning something new each day about Israel and its problems and successes. AIPAC brings a lot of interesting speakers and industry people together in one place and it enabled me to learn and have discussions that I wouldn't have been able to have otherwise. For me it's not so much an ideological reason for going, but an act of open-mindedness that I try to display towards all sources of learning."
United States Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) with Josh at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
An Iraq War Veteran, Purple Heart recipient, and former Assistant Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Senator Duckworth shared advice from her extraordinary life in an article by Newsweek for International Women's Day.
On Monday, March 25, former Chief of Staff of the CIA and the Department of Defense Jeremy Bash
interviewed Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Martha McSally (R-AZ) live on-stage. Both women were asked to discuss critical security issues related to U.S.-Israel relations as decorated military veterans who served in the Middle East.
Josh and fellow student Jason Zubata attended their first AIPAC together with the American University student delegation.
Josh and Jason got to meet Theodor Herzl, Golda Meir, and David Ben-Gurion at the AIPAC conference this year.
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio and Josh at the Washington convention center.
As mentioned above, American University senior Jason Zubata also represented the student delegation at the AIPAC policy conference. Also the AU Students for Israel Vice President of Membership, Jason said, "I attended AIPAC because I wanted to connect with my Israeli community while learn to strengthen the American-Israeli Relationship."
Gabrielle Chishinsky is an American University senior completing a bachelor’s degree in international studies and a minor in economics. Her thematic study focuses on foreign policy and national security, and global and comparative governance in the Middle East. Presently, Gabrielle is an intern for the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and additionally serves as a David Project outreach intern to establish relationships with non-Jewish communities on campus.
In an earlier article, Gabrielle said, "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, 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 ."
2018 Hasbara Fellow Elan Karoll represented the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at the AIPAC policy conference and shared an article about his colleague Waga Brok who received the 2019 Campus Ally of the Year Award for her exceptional service as a Jewish Agency Israel Fellow. Currently, Brok is planning a student delegation trip to Ethiopia to learn about Ethiopian Jewry and to tell her personal story as part of Operation Solomon, the operation that airlifted almost 14,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel in 1991.