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Reflections on AIPAC Conference

03/07/2018 02:32:12 PM

Mar7

Rabbi Wendy Pein

               I was pleased to be one of over 18,000 supporters of Israel who attended AIPAC’s National Conference, March 3-6, in Washington, DC. It was amazing to see both Jews and non-Jews from all across the political spectrum unite in their support for the state of Israel.  Highlights from the Conference included speeches by U.N Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Vice President Mike Pence, and the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu.  Each of these speeches expressed a heartfelt dedication to the safety and security of Israel with a focus on the threat posed by the growing menace of Iran and its’ goal of destroying Israel.
                Equally inspiring were the 3,500 students who attended the Conference. Wherever I looked, there were high school and college students attending speeches and lectures and sitting together in groups and discussing the workshops they had just attended.  Each political official who addressed the Conference remarked on the amazing number of students they had seen and praised them for their attendance and their commitment to supporting Israel. As Congresswoman Nita Lowey remarked to our Westchester delegation, “It is great to see all of you here … but it’s especially great to see this group of young people around this table.”
                The theme of the conference was, “Choose to Lead.” This theme was no doubt directed at the 3,500 students but the theme was also directed to all attendees.  Michael Friedman, the United States Ambassador to Israel reminded us that each of us are ambassadors for the state of Israel on a daily basis. It is incumbent upon us to be the voice to oppose the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel) movement which has a growing presence on the college campuses across the country. It is incumbent on us to encourage our legislators to continue supporting aid to Israel. And it is up to us to voice our support for the Taylor Force Act which seeks to end the monetary reward to family members of Palestinians who participate in terrorist acts against Israelis.
                This April marks Israel’s 70th year since the independence of the Jewish state in 1948.  It seemed to be a miracle when Israel was established. Then, it was even more unbelievable that she was able to survive despite the wars of 1948, 1967 and 1973.  And how great it is to see in 2018 that not only has Israel survived, but that she now flourishes.  Israel is now exporting technology all across the world and providing aid to countries all across the globe.  Israel’s population is 1/10th of 1% the world’s population and yet it has received 20% of the total global investment in cyber security companies. This is just one example of how Israel has overcome the obstacles put in its way and has managed to flourish.
                On April 15, the Jewish communities of Westchester will gather at the Solomon Schechter Upper School in Hartsdale, NY to celebrate Israel’s 70th year.  As Elliot Forchheimer, the Executive Director of the Westchester Jewish Council has stated, “364 days of the year we can debate about Israel.  On one day of the year, let’s join together to celebrate the Jewish State.”  More details will follow, but I hope you will join me and our students to celebrate Israel at this celebration.  May Israel continue to thrive and flourish for ever more.

Sat, February 16 2019 11 Adar I 5779