Next Wednesday night, June 30th, at 7:00 pm, the Minnesota chapter of AIPAC will meet for its annual event at McNamara Alumni Center at the University of Minnesota.
Earlier this year, we covered the national AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, DC, and now it’s coming to our very own home state.
If you’ve ever wanted to spend an evening with several hundred other Minnesotans who care deeply about Israel and want to express their support for a strong US-Israel relationship, if you’d like to be counted when our local Congresspeople look around the room to see how strong and how widespread support for Israel really is among Minnesotans, and finally, if you enjoy dessert receptions and some of the finest schmoozing (and political speakers) that this Jewish community has to offer – then this event is for you.
Most of the Minnesota Congressional delegation, and quite a few of the State legislators (and this year – candidates!) are always in attendance. (It’s always fascinating to watch the event’s roll call, and see which of our representatives in government choose to attend, and which ones send their staff instead).
The main thrust of the event (as it is in Washington, and all around the country) is for the community to come together, and stand together in a single, unified show of support for Israel.
Lots of us support Israel in various ways at different times throughout the year. But it’s mostly fairly silent, and pretty invisible. So this is the one time when we can all gather together, stand as one, and quite literally, be counted. When our Congressmen and women can see 200, 300, or more people who all gave up their Wednesday night to come to a ballroom – that’s when they know: we care. We care, and we care enough to be counted, we care enough to show up.
That means that we expect them to take our voices and our wishes and our caring with them when they go back to Washington. That our voices, and our numbers, matter, when they vote on the next aid bill, or the next Gaza flotilla, or the next Iran sanctions act. It lets them know that they represent a constituency, and that that constituency cares.
Having said all that – what is AIPAC exactly?
AIPAC – also known as The American Israel Public Affairs Committee – is an American lobbying organization, dedicated to supporting and promoting a strong US-Israel relationship, based on the shared values and interests of our 2 nations. That’s it.
But I would go further to say that it is THE organization promoting the US-Israel relationship in America. In my personal opinion, AIPAC is the strongest and most effective voice in support of Israel and the US-Israel relationship in Washington, where it counts. AIPAC reaches out to and educated every Member of Congress, every Congressional candidate, and every Presidential administration – and has been doing so for decades.
I went to Policy Conference this year, and I saw the thousands of people blanketing Capitol Hill for AIPAC. I saw the Congressional offices open to meet with AIPAC delegations the way they probably open for few other people and organizations. Democrats, Republicans, Independents – ALL met with their states’ AIPAC delegations – as far as I could tell, with no exceptions. I challenge you to name another organization (save perhaps the AARP) that can show up in Washington, and have the clout to be heard the way AIPAC is, and its members are. So in my opinion, if you’re going to be involved in pro-Israel advocacy, AIPAC is the place to do it – it just speaks louder and gets heard farther.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. The New York Times describes AIPAC as “the most important organization affecting America’s relationship with Israel.”
And it does it by focusing on the decision makers – the community leaders, the religious leaders, the student leaders, and most importantly, our representatives in government. And this event is a chance for us to tell them how we would like to be represented.
I suppose I should actually tell you something about the event, huh?
Like I said before, it is a great community gathering. If you always wanted a chance to see what did happen to Suzy from kindergarden – this event might be better than Facebook! A terrific chance to catch up with (many) old friends in the community, and meet a lot of new people, too.
And the event is not exclusive to the Jewish community, either. There is always a large number of non-Jewish Americans who support the US-Israel relationship present, as well. In years past, I’ve seen (non-Jewish) students from the University of Minnesota, including student government leaders; I’ve seen Christians pastors from our community; and just random Minnesotans who believe in this issue, and stand with AIPAC on it.
And if you’ve ever wanted to meet your Congressman face to face, this is your chance! Most of the Minnesota delegation makes it, and just a tip – most of them stick around after the event, so this is your chance to meet them! (Most of our local delegation is quite nice and very personable, so it’s always a pleasure meeting them!)
Oh yeah, and the speakers. There is always a lineup of terrific, prominent speakers, as well as some fascinating updates on current events in the Middle East, and in domestic politics – but we all know you’re not really coming for that, don’t we?
And finally, an invitation.
Yours truly just happens to be hosting a table of young professionals at the event. So if you’d like to come support Israel in the company of some cool people, please leave a note in the comments, or drop me a line at jenna (at) tcjewfolk (dot) com, and I’ll hook you up. (Plus you get to meet your lovely columnist in person – as if you needed another reason to go!)
Click here for TC Jewfolk’s complete coverage from AIPAC National Policy Conference 2010.
Hear Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and other national leaders speak to and about AIPAC
Hear Minnesota Congressman Erik Paulsen Describe Why AIPAC Is Important to Him
[Photo: Crossed Flag Pins]