By Mollie Higgins
For the Mitzpeh
In a time of political change in the U.S., about 18,000 people at the 2017 American Israel Policy Affairs Conference in D.C. displayed a bipartisan voice and unified support for Israel.
The three-day conference that ran from March 26 to March 28 featured numerous keynote speakers, presentations and workshops that gave attendees access to members of Congress, providing them the opportunity to discuss the current state of the Israel-U.S. relationship.
Some of the keynote speakers included: Vice President Mike Pence; U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley; House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor; former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair; and former Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper.
The slogan for this year’s conference was “Many Voices, One Mission.” Terps for Israel President Jonathan Allen said the motto fit the sentiment of the conference throughout the three days.
“You’ll see Nancy Pelosi speaking on the same day as speaker Paul Ryan. That’s something you don’t see often, and it says a lot about the support behind this issue,” said Allen, a sophomore economics major.
This was Allen’s fifth time attending the AIPAC Conference. There were about 4,000 other high school and college-aged students there.
“That’s one of the aspects of the conference that I appreciate the most, because it gives me an opportunity to network and meet other students – some of whom are doing similar work on different campuses in the country – and I can also bounce ideas off of them and listen to what they’ve done on their campus,” Allen said. “As a president of a pro-Israel group, it’s very helpful to hear what they’ve done, and get their suggestions for what I can do on our campus.”
Terps for Israel Vice President Avi Schneider joined Allen and about 30 other students from this university. This was Schneider’s second time attending the conference, but he said it was just as impactful as the first time he attended, three years ago.
“I found that as a student, I actually have a voice and actually have a say in politics, and I’m able to contribute to make a change. Sometimes students even have an easier way of doing this than adults,” said Schneider, a sophomore marketing major “We were walking around and there were a lot of members of Congress saying it’s important for us to be involved, because we are the future.”
The 2017 AIPAC conference was able to showcase the bipartisan relationship within Congress, and how there are few issues in America that have bipartisan support. Schneider noted that the diversity of the speakers and people in attendance was very apparent.
“The people there were all of different backgrounds, religions and ethnicities, all there for one reason,” said Schneider.
This theme was portrayed through the conference’s slogan, and the 18,000 people in attendance showed safety and support for Israel is everyone’s issue.