Welcome to AIPAC Policy Conference

The AIPAC conference has begun, with staff milling, press snapping photos, and speakers surrounding us, at multiple podiums, trying to tell Israel’s story. They tell us:

“This is the story of pride and progress.”

“The story of a great people, a great nation.”

“Welcome to the AIPAC policy conference”

The first video plays and everyone is silent.

It is a testimonial to Israel’s history. To building a nation. To the struggle to survive, with photos from the multiple wars declared against Israel, and photos of the intifada, and the loss that Israelis has faced as they have tried to build a world, a land for themselves in peace, in stability in safety.

Photos of peace.  Of failures to make peace. Again and again. Soldiers and children. Soldiers who are little more than children.

Photos and videos of immigrants coming to Israel. The desire of these Jews all over the world to have a home where they won’t face discrimination. Where they won’t have to hide who they are. I have to admit, it’s incredibly moving.

But the real focus of the conference is on innovation. What Israel has to offer the world. And that’s the next part of this video. Technology. But not just technology – photos from Haiti and all of the world as Israeli doctors and humanitarian workers gave their time, money, and sometimes their lives for Tikkun Olam, repairing the world.

Okay, now I’m crying.

I guess that makes me a moderately biased journalist covering this conference.

I’m a Jew who believes that Jews need a homeland where they are safe. Where they can walk on the streets on shabbos in almost perfect silence because everyone is going to shul with them. I believe that Jews have a right to claim (and fight for, and work with the UN to make their own) a tiny country the size of New Jersey. And I’m an American who believes that we need to support the Middle East’s only democracy because it’s our only partner for peace, democracy and stability in that region, and because America gains so much from Israel militarily, legally, technologically, and morally.

Yes, Israel’s not perfect. But neither is America, and I am still proud of be an American.

The video ends. The conference begins. Stay tuned.

Watch the conference sessions live here and add your thoughts in the comments.