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.
Glad you are there. Someone to stand up against Saudi oil money and anti-Jewish bigotry.
Am I cynical in thinking that Israel offering cell phone technology to the world means absolutely nothing to the billions of Anti-Semites surrounding Israel, including radical Islamists, and the left & right-wing European anti-Israel (Jewish) hordes? I know what Israel has to offer the world, because I work in the medical device industry and see Israel’s contribution daily, but I predict a tough road ahead. I’m also a realist so I know that the fact that Israel is a democracy means little, as if the scale of US support is based upon political systems, just ask Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and China. Self-interest, not morality binds nations, though I wish it were as simple. What keeps me up at night is not whether Israel will invent the next light bulb, but how it will escape being thrown to the fire by the nations. If we should again slide into a deeper economic depression and oil prices rise I can tell you Israel will be sacrificed on the alter of self-interest in a heartbeat. The question asked “What do we get out of this relationship?” is a legitimate one for America to be asking. Israel was a staunch anti-Soviet blockade to communist encroachment into the Middle East during the Cold War, and now arguably an anti-terror (whatever that means) block in the region, but as in all international relations, things can change instantly. I’m not providing the answer to exactly what Israel should or shouldn’t do in the near future, but the status quo isn’t the answer either. There needs to be some kind of final-status very soon. Someone needs to diffuse this ticking time bomb. Sorry to be so negative Leora but one can’t help but worry. I still have hope, but my head is not in the clouds. I believe there is a saying in the Talmud that goes something like this “Who is wise? The one who sees tomorrow today.”