What's Up Weber
The annual Policy Conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) recently took place in Washington, D.C from March 26 through March 28. There, through AIPAC’s mission “to strengthen, protect, and promote the U.S.-Israel relationships in ways that enhance the security of the United States and Israel”, pro-Israel activists from across the country met with Congressional representatives from both sides of the aisle to discuss the United States-Israel relationship. AIPAC is neither funded by the U.S. government nor by Israel; it is funded by donations.
Multiple students from The Weber School attended AIPAC this year. Senior Micah Barich said the most interesting thing about AIPAC to him was that “thousands of people, with completely different political views and backgrounds, were able to come together and rally around supporting Israel.” Sarah Lewyn, a junior, said that her favorite speaker at AIPAC was Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, because “she was the most positive and she had the best things to say about Israel. She is getting stuff done in the UN; she was very forthright about what she was gonna do about getting rid of anti-Israel sentiments.” Sarah also said that what she found most interesting about AIPAC was “how there was a variety of breakout sessions, and you could hear different speakers about different subjects.” What inspired her to attend the convention for the first time this year was how interesting it would be to “see Israel from the American Government’s point of view, and different advocates for Israel’s point of view.”
AIPAC works with Congress to make sure that Israel is able to defend itself from any threats. They also work to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons. If Iran maintained nuclear weapons, they could pose a serious threat to the United States, Israel, and the rest of the world. AIPAC helped establish a bipartisan approach to the Iran Nuclear Agreement and made sure that Congress was willing to help.
This year’s Policy Conference was headlined by Vice President, Mike Pence, who was the keynote speaker on March 26. Other notable speakers were Nikki Haley, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations; Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Leader of the Senate, and Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives. They were joined by a multitude of people from Congress (both Democrats and Republicans), Israeli Ministers, and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair.
U.S. Vice President Pence spoke about moving the United State’s embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem. The embassy promise was a huge component of President Trump’s campaign speeches, but once they took office, the administration started backing off of their claims. Congress passed a law to move the embassy in 1995, but all presidents since then have issues waivers to the law. Obama’s waiver, the one currently in effect, expires June 1st.
Senator Schumer spoke about how “Israel has come a long way since its early days,” which he connected to the strong ties between Israel and the United States. Regarding anti-Semitism, Schumer said that neo-Nazis are becoming more active in the streets of Europe and that the recent wave of bomb threats “regardless of the suspect’s race and ethnicity” have struck fears in Jews across the country. He also emphasized the importance of Congress remaining committed to funding security grant programs that assist the vulnerable.