By Ben Ganzfried
There were few surprises at the 2010 AIPAC Policy Conference last evening. The key topics were sanctions against Iran, the unbreakable relationship between the U.S. and Israel, and the fact that friends best disagree quietly. I was told by a fellow journalist that this year’s policy conference followed the structure of conferences in the past: the evening began with a roll call of the representatives, senators and other policy-officials in attendance, as well as a list of distinguished guests. I suspect that this conference was also similar to past conferences insofar as it was briefly disrupted by hecklers (who paid an awful lot of money just to yell for two seconds). At least, the quick reaction of the crowd to cheer these disrupters down suggests that the audience is used to such things.
What distinguishes the conference, however, is the urgency of dealing with Iran. Senator Lindsey Graham noted, “Will this be the last AIPAC (policy) conference before Iran has the bomb?” Senator Charles Schumer said, “in Hebrew my last name means guardian” and concluded that he will be a guardian of Eretz Yisrael. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Iran is a threat to Israel and to the rest of the world.
There is much more to say about the conference, from the tight security which necessitated in my having to leave my umbrella at the entrance, to Senator Lindsey Graham’s joke that Senator Joe Lieberman is a democrat, republican, and independent, to the repeated phrase that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and “not a settlement.” This dinner, in addition to being excellently planned and executed and well attended (the highest attendance in AIPAC history), was a persuasive reminder that the threats posed to tolerant, classically liberal, democratic societies are very real. And in such times of adversity, friends need to stand together– no matter their political differences.