Repacking AIPAC

AIPAC appeared reinvigorated at a 2007 conference.

Daryl Temkin,

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Arutz 7
The date was almost two years ago, May 2005, and the Washington DC AIPAC Policy Conference had attracted some 5,000 participants from across the United States. Among the attendees were about a thousand college students and a sizable delegation of European Jewish community leaders; many stunned by their own personal experiences of the European rise of Islam and the erupting anti-Semitism, renamed anti-Zionism.

It appeared that the European delegates came to America's AIPAC Conference looking to
AIPAC's Washington Conference was the largest ever.
gain a revitalizing and energizing injection of Jewish and pro-Israel strength. Little did they know that, weeks after their return, the London subway terrorist bombing would shock Europe and become a shaping force in future foreign policy.

Days following the London bombing, British leadership, instead of harshly criticizing terrorists and terrorism, declared that the resolution of the Israeli-Arab issue was to be even more directly addressed. Just a few weeks later, the virtual overnight Israeli evacuation of the Gaza Strip occurred. The fact that a potential Palestinian state was, in days, going to be delivered on a silver platter to the Arabs made no difference to the organizers and executers of the London terrorist bombing. The terrorists sent the world another message: the Gaza Disengagement would not change a thing and would not resolve "shamed" or damaged Islamic Arab honor.

But in the banquet halls and large meeting rooms of the 2005 AIPAC Conference, the mood was quite different. The Conference theme centered around the Gaza Disengagement countdown and pre-event fanfare, building infectious and blinding excitement leading to Israel's "bold and courageous" move to "unilaterally initiate the peace process."

Along with the Gaza Disengagement theme, AIPAC's second theme was to enthusiastically praise and kindly welcome the official replacement for the despised and intransigent Yasser Arafat. The new breath of fresh air was Mr. Mahmoud Abbas. Somehow forgetting that Abbas was Arafat's right hand man for the past forty years, and forgetting that Abbas's academic studies focused on Holocaust denial, Mr. Abbas was now being touted as a wonderful modern leader, peace-maker, and a responsible state-builder for the Palestinian people. It was stressed that Mr. Abbas would rapidly accomplish that which his predecessor Arafat never did; he would be the messiah-like king who would lead his people into an era of peace, a homeland, and a non-hate-filled recognition of Israel.

The 2005 AIPAC keynote speakers included Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and various Middle East experts, as well as congressional leaders. They all mistakenly echoed the expectation and prediction that a new era of peace and reconciliation was about to dawn. AIPAC was so thoroughly convinced and intent on the Gaza Disengagement being a total success and Abbas being the Palestinian dream leader that no backup plan or "what if it doesn't work out" discussion was even entertained at the conference.

At the time of the 2005 conference, two senior AIPAC staff members were being questioned for allegedly passing American information to Israel. This was another Pollard-like situation that put the focus on AIPAC's positioning and respect inside the Beltway.

There is a standard operating procedure at American Jewish events to sing the American national anthem followed by the Israeli national anthem. However, due to the potential concern over AIPAC's values - being "America first" or "Israel first" - the decision was made to omit Israel's anthem, Hatikvah ("The Hope"), at the conference. AIPAC’s deletion of Hatikvah was a dramatic statement and reflected its fear that American public opinion could possibly shift if the Jewish-American dual loyalty question should arise.

Now, two years later, AIPAC's Washington Conference was the largest ever. Some 6,500 people filled the Washington Convention Center with pride and conviction, eager to hear the voices, views and projections of America's and Israel's top leadership. The 2007 theme of AIPAC was to focus on preventing Iran from reaching nuclear success, as well as to insure that Hamas would not receive American and international funding prior to recognizing Israel's right to exist.

The AIPAC speakers had moved away from speaking in the dream-filled terms of 2005. Now, the Gaza Disengagement was recognized for not fulfilling even one of the promises imagined by the Sharon government. The "bold and courageous" steps for peace led to thousands of missiles being shot into pre-1967 Israel, kidnapped Israeli soldiers, a destroyed Gaza farming industry, and hundreds of murders between Hamas and Fatah, as well as between feuding Arab family factions. Gaza was now under endless lawlessness, endless weapon smuggling, uncontrollable contraband and explosive tu
Speakers had moved away from speaking in the dream-filled terms of 2005.
nneling; Gaza had become the safe and fear-free headquarters for the leading terror organizations, as well as a new Al-Qaeda office.

The Hamas landslide election victory, children's camps for terrorist training, the ludicrous missile-firing ceasefire agreement, and the recent Mecca Summit - which emphasized that Hamas is in control and no recognition of Israel would be discussed - are additional results of the Gaza Disengagement. The PA unity government, siding with Hamas, further challenged those who tried to preach that Abbas and his Fatah party ever desired to recognize and work with Israel.

The most memorable event of the 2007 AIPAC Conference was a dynamic twenty-minute speech delivered by Pastor John Hagee. His speech received no fewer than 14 major ovations - and many of them were standing ovations. It was a first for AIPAC to invite a Christian pastor to be the keynote speaker for their opening session. Pastor Hagee's impassioned speech will most likely go down in history as being the most memorable, emotional, and eye-opening event at an AIPAC Conference.

With his clear and succinct evangelical preacher vocal style, Pastor Hagee introduced to the national and international Jewish leadership attendees the idea that the Jews are not alone in their support for Israel, and that at least 50 million Christians are fervently standing with them. He boldly called for a stop to appeasement, and he fearlessly called for an undivided Jerusalem. Both statements received ovations that climaxed in a lengthy final standing ovation that left few of the 6,500 participants in their seats.

The 2007 AIPAC Conference demonstrated that there is a significant number of Christians throughout the world who will stand by Israel, protect Israel, and bless Israel for all its good and glory. In that light, there was a return of "hope" to AIPAC. Hatikvah was back on the AIPAC program.

Following the singing of America's national anthem, the pride-filled 6,000-plus AIPAC voices dramatically sang Hatikvah. In spite of the long list of worldwide bleakness, tragedies, horrors, and failures, for 2007, there was a repackaged and repacked AIPAC. There was a new tikvah, hope, and a renewed strength to face the coming reality without the blinders of the past, but with clear convictions.Those convictions can once again be widely felt, strongly articulated and powerfully heard.