Put the UVA undergraduate population into a massive convention center, and you have the entirety of AIPAC’s annual Policy Conference. AIPAC, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is the biggest and most influential pro-Israel lobby in the nation. Each year come spring AIPAC hosts a 3-day gathering of thousands of pro-Israel activists in the beautiful D.C. Convention Center. For the first two days, breakout sessions and general plenary sessions go on from morning to night, where keynote speakers such as Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power give speeches regarding political issues facing Israel and legislative opportunities in the United States to support Israel. Many scholars, writers, dignitaries from around the world, and intellectuals who are eloquent on a wide range of issues are invited to speak as well.
During the third day of the conference, all 15,000 attendees are mobilized to Capitol Hill where they lobby their Congressmen directly. This deployment of pro-Israel activists to the offices of Representatives and Senators symbolizes the huge impact of AIPAC’s work. Not only does the organization employ professional lobbyers to get the pro-Israel voice heard in the legislative branch, it also empowers its members to act on their views. AIPAC’s policy conference is the best place to actively show support for Israel and exercise our rights as United States citizens to make sure Congress backs Israel, our treasured ally in the Middle East.
Personally, I find AIPAC Policy Conference to be close to a cathartic experience. I am able to express my positions on Israel with like-minded people, as well as with passionate people who disagree with me. I am able to learn from and pose challenging questions to even the most well-known intellects. Finally, it is extremely rewarding to be able to march up to Capitol Hill with an agenda and be the voice for a Israel, a nation that means so much to me.
Class of 2018