This is a guest post by Rabbi Avi S. Olitzky of Beth El Synagogue in Saint Louis Park.
As a rabbi, I get the chance to teach – and to learn; to preach – and to listen. I have the opportunity to help others gain inspiration – and to find inspiration in others. This March, we here in Minnesota have the unique chance to travel together as one community of faith, to learn and to listen, to speak and to teach. In doing so, we have the opportunity to be inspired to act and inspire others toward action. AIPAC Minnesota will be attending the annual AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., March 21-23, 2010.
AIPAC is America’s pro-Israel lobby, the organization in charge of working with Congress and the White House to ensure that America stands by the State of Israel. The conference is the largest pro-Israel gathering in the United States and includes speeches from presidents and prime ministers (notably this year, Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Binyamin Netanyahu); Middle East scholars; political pundits; and leading journalists. The last day, we all head to Capitol Hill and lobby our members of Congress. To get a sense of what it is like, take a look at the AIPAC Policy Conference video online at www.aipac.org/PC2010. After you’ve watched the video you’ll have a sense of what a fulfilling experience the conference is. But I also want to remind you how necessary our attendance is.
When we passed the Iran Divestment legislation here in Minnesota, it was because we know that Iran continues to move forward in its pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability. We can all continue to be part of historic legislative efforts to sanction Iran, siphoning off the money it needs to reach its stated goal. And in the months ahead – in March specifically – the U.N. Human Rights Council will meet to decide if Israel should be sanctioned for alleged war crimes committed against the Palestinians in Gaza last winter. By being in Washington, D.C. this March, we can all be part of efforts to ensure that the United States blocks such a move, which would undermine Israel’s ability to defend its citizens.
These are not small threats to Israel. They are big. But our leadership as a community and our actions as individuals – even seemingly small actions – can have an impact on world affairs. That’s why we need to travel to DC together. For more information or to register online, please visit www.aipac.org/PC2010. Proudly list yourself as traveling with AIPAC MN.