AIPAC conference 2019
After three days of bumping into hundreds of Israel supporters at the annual AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.; attending sessions on the cultural and scientific achievements that come out of the Jewish state; the philosophical, political and security dilemmas that confront Israel; the rise of anti-Semitism and the BDS movement; and the complicated and evolving relationship between Israel and the American Jewish community– including the vexing challenge of maintaining bipartisan political support for the Jewish state– I think I’ve figured out the key value of this annual 18,000-people schmoozefest, in addition to the obvious benefit of going home with hundreds of business cards.
It is this: The Israel conversation in America needs this conference.
Over the past decade or so, much of the Jewish conversation on Israel has been hyper-polarized and emotional. Criticism of the right-wing policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has often descended into bitterness and contempt. From their end, Bibi supporters, who are usually also President Trump supporters, have shown how they
can be equally bitter and contemptuous. It’s a dynamic of mutual animosity and isolation.
Into this highly charged and unproductive atmosphere comes the AIPAC conference, as a way, perhaps, of calling an annual time-out for reflection on both the value and complexity of Israel.
While you’ll hear criticism of Israeli policies from individual panelists at some of the many breakout sessions, that’s not the main purpose of the conference. The overriding purpose, as I see it, is to encourage supporters of Israel to stay engaged, and to find their own way of staying engaged, for the simple reason that it’s good for Israel and it’s good for America.
There’s so much going on at the conference that one can easily punch holes here and there, especially if the sessions you pick are not to your liking. But maybe I got lucky, because I attended a session on Shabbat that moved me enough that I felt that session alone was
worth the whole trip.
“Compromise doesn’t mean a betrayal of your truth,” was the line that stuck with me. Tal Becker, a scholar and Senior Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, was speaking about how human beings are wired to be tribal. To elevate from a tribal morality to a meta morality, he said, takes work. It takes “thinking slow.” But when you get there, he assured us, compromise becomes an opportunity to access a “higher truth” that is difficult to see when we think fast and tribal. Becker was making a compelling moral case for something that has gone horribly out of fashion these days– listening and honoring the other side.
I felt a sense of liberation coming out of his session. The complexity didn’t phase me; it stayed with me. It freed me to think further.
Not everyone will draw the same conclusions from their experience at AIPAC, but this was mine: The conference offers a kaleidoscope of stories and issues and discussions about Israel and the Israel-American relationship that remind us why it all matters and why we should care.
And of course, there are those stacks of business cards we bring home with us, which no doubt will add complexity to our lives.
BDS movement founder Omar Barghouti (YouTube)
Omar Barghouti, founder and leader of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, was denied entry to the United States on Wednesday.
He was informed by airline staff at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Israel that U.S. immigration officials told the American consul in Tel Aviv to block him from boarding the flight.
A State Department official told NPR, “Visa records are confidential under U.S. law; therefore, we cannot discuss the details of individual visa cases.”
The US Capitol Building. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Four of Israel’s most dedicated supporters in the US Congress on Friday expressed concern that the Jewish state may annex the West Bank, as results from Israel’s election earlier this week confirmed the likelihood of a right-wing government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“As strong, life-long supporters of Israel, a U.S.-Israel relationship rooted in our shared values, and the two-state solution, we are greatly concerned by the possibility of Israel taking unilateral steps to annex the West Bank,” said a joint statement from Democratic representatives Eliot Engel (NY), Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs,
The final image sent by Israeli spacecraft Beresheet before it crash-landed on the moon. Photo: courtesy of Space IL.
Astronauts and scientists at the US space agency NASA commended the Israeli non-profit organization SpaceIL for its efforts afyer its spacecraft “Beresheet” failed to land safely on the moon on Thursday.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said, “While NASA regrets the end of the SpaceIL mission without a successful lunar landing of the Beresheet lander, we congratulate SpaceIL, the Israel Aerospace Industries and the state of Israel on the incredible accomplishment of sending the first privately funded mission into lunar orbit.”
“Der ewige Jude” – “Theeternal Jew” movie poster . (photo credit: WIKIPEDIA)
The lead article Thursday on the opinion page of the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper compared Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the 1940 Nazi antisemitic movie The Eternal Jew.
The article was titled in the paper “The Eternal Netanyahu” in a word play in connection with director Fritz Hippler’s antisemitic pseudo-documentary, based on the medieval legend of the wandering Jew, that served as a cinematographic justification for the Holocaust.
As an orthopedic surgeon for 30 years in Washington, D.C. I see patients from all over the world and from every walk of life and what has become clear to me is that everyone is fundamentally the same. As a rule, I shy away from political or religious discussions with my patients as they have no bearing on their care. But occasionally, the discussions are thrust on me.
Several years ago I treated a professor of political science from a local university and had established a good rapport with him. On his last visit before saying goodbye he popped a question.
It is well-known by some and wholly ignored by others that Islam has a long, sad history of antisemitism, a bigotry that originated in the seventh century CE (the first Islamic century) and has grown more vicious in the 21st. Combined with an almost universal anti-Zionism and bolstered by many on the political “left”, it is today the most ubiquitous and deadliest form of Jew-hatred. It takes the form, not just of insults, boycotts, and lawfare, but of wars, terrorist attacks, and calls for the destruction of the Jewish state and the genocide of the Jews.
Amman – The streets in Amman’s Jebel al-Weibdeh are crowded in the early evening with sounds of young people looking for a place to relax. Coffee shops intermix with art studios selling crafts for tourists. At the Maestro bar and restaurant, a band is getting ready for a live performance. The lights are dimmed and someone has put “no smoking” signs on the tables – they are out of place with the ash trays. Apparently, Monday has jam sessions and anyone can bring their instrument to join in. But it’s Wednesday.
A few of my readers recently asked me to explain the difference between “Palestinians” living inside and outside of Israel’s borders. Who are the “Palestinians” anyway? First, see below:
“Palestine” does not exist today as a nation-state, but at multiple times in history, including the present, it has been one of the names of a place. The Romans, recalling the defunct Philistines – non-Arab Sea People – coined it after defeating [Jewish general] Bar Kochba in 135 CE to disassociate what had been Judaea from Jews.
President Trump’s peace plan for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict surfaced two years ago and to this day – remarkably – only he and a handful of aides know its precise details. A stream of leaks, however, contains enough internal consistency that their collation, supplemented by conversations with administration officials, provides a plausible outline of the plan’s contents.
On March 31, a South Bend grandma brought her grandson to the hospital. The 11-month-old baby boy had been shot. His grandmother’s car had also taken fire. It was another early morning in South Bend.
Around the same time, Mayor Buttigieg, was toting up the $7 million in donations from his charm offensive as his bid for the 2020 Democrat nomination got underway. The national media never bothered reporting the shooting of an 11-month-old boy in the city he was supposed to be running, but instead confined its coverage of South Bend matters to a publicity stunt wedding officiated by Buttigieg.
The Palestinian students are being targeted because of their political affiliations and not because of any crime they committed.
While the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are busy beating up each other’s supporters, “pro-Palestinian” activists on US and Canadian university campuses are busy blaming Israel for Palestinian woes.
As an American Christian who has had the privilege of working in senior-level positions for four US presidents and who has enjoyed a close association with three of Israel’s prime ministers, I believe it is my obligation to provide the Israeli people with my views. I think my viewpoint is important because a vast number of American Evangelical Christians believe as I believe. In addition, Evangelical Christians are, without question, Israel’s strongest supporters in the United States.
Does Case 3000 – known as the submarine affair – prove that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is guilty of doing something illegal? Well, all Likud supporters believe with absolute confidence that it’s a political plot. Netanyahu’s opponents, however, believe – also with absolute confidence – that it’s the largest corruption case to ever occur in the State of Israel.