Aipac: an overwhelming event

By Jonathan Arkush, March 6, 2014

Aipac is nothing if not overwhelming. It’s not just the huge numbers but the exceptional professionalism with which it is delivered that impresses.

If you laid several indoor football fields end to end, surrounded them with vast video screens showing scenes of America and Israel, put speakers on a platform, packed in a crowd of 14,000 greeting the messages they like with applause and standing ovations, you would just about begin to get the idea.

But you would have to be there to imagine Pastor Paul Smith from Bronzeville, Chicago, speaking about his life mission to improve the lives of his poverty-stricken community, and how he was inspired by his experiences visiting Israel. He brought the crowd to its feet, as they echoed his evangelical “Amen to that!” Then there were the non-Jewish student leaders from every state in America who spoke movingly about life-changing moments in Israel to a hushed and emotional audience.

And so to the climax before the supporters went off to Capitol Hill to lobby. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave them what they wanted to hear.

He set out a well-argued case for making a historic peace with the Palestinians and told the audience that BDS stood for bigotry, dishonesty and shame (they liked that).

Above all, Mr Netanyahu laid out a compelling justification for removing from Iran the ability to manufacture nuclear weapons. His peroration told his listeners to: “Stand tall, stand proud”.

After two days at Aipac, they did.

Jonathan Arkush, Vice President of the Board of Deputies, from Washington

Last updated: 12:59pm, March 11 2014