07 March 2006

2006 AIPAC Policy Conference

I, Ben Greenberg, along with fellow YCT student Yehuda Hausman, attended the 2006 Policy Conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington D.C. There were more than 4000 attendees including 1000 students from across the University, graduate schools and even high school level. AIPAC organized a special Rabbinical delegation to the Conference this year, in large part due to a report by CLAL on the status of Israel related curriculum at Rabbinical Seminaries. To this end there were specific lectures and presentations for the Rabbinical Delegation throughout the Conference including a talk entitled "The Rabbis Voice: A Congressional Perspective".

Besides the specific Rabbinic presentations the Rabbinical Delegation joined with the rest of the larger Conference for the daily Plenary activities including the Monday evening Gala Banquet that included the famous AIPAC roll call of Representatives and Senators that were in attendance at the dinner which concluded with practically the entire House of Representatives in attendance as well as a large portion of the Senate. Two popular Senators in particular that were highlighted were John Kerry and Joe Lieberman. In addition, Ambassadors from 58 nations were at the dinner, among them the ambassador from Afghanistan. The two keynote speakers at the dinner were Senator Susan M. Collins (R-ME) and Senator Evan Bayh (D-IA).

Tuesday began with the morning Plenary with the keynote address by Vice President Dick Cheney. After the morning Plenary attendees split into their geographic regions to meet with their Senators and later their Congressman to lobby for specific bills in both the House of Representatives and the Senate including the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act (HR-4681) and the Iran Sanctions Act. Also, was a general lobbying push to approve the 2007 budget for military and foreign expense that includes $2.46 billion dollars in aid to Israel. I am registered in the State of New York so I met with both Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer as well as Representative Charles Rangel.

The 2006 Policy Conference ended after the lobbying appointments. This year's conference was both the most well attended generally and particulary by students in AIPAC's history.


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