By: Staff Writer Danielle Adler
Retrieved via Danielle Adler
Last week, I was accompanied by 18,000 other pro-Israel advocates in Washington, DC for AIPAC’s annual Policy Conference. AIPAC is the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee whose main mission is to uphold the US-Israel relationship. AIPAC seeks to educate the public through grassroot advocacy efforts, various learning seminars, and sponsored trips to Israel. I attended the conference with a delegation of UNC students who were eager to learn more about how they can make a difference in the political process and voicing their support for Israel.
This was my third time attending the conference, and you would think that by now I would have mastered the logistics of it. But no—it was just as overwhelming and exciting as the two years prior. Every year, this conference gains traction not only for its sheer number of members that attend but also for the policy makers who come. Aside from the State of the Union, the AIPAC Policy Conference is the largest annual gathering of members of Congress.
In a divided and polarized Congress, it’s truly remarkable that members from both sides of the aisle can agree on this one issue: unwavering support for the state of Israel. If you think about it, there aren’t many other issues on which most members can universally agree. That is why AIPAC is the necessary group we need in Washington. It brings advocates young and old, Democrat and Republican, Jewish and Christian, together on one issue.
Israel is by no means a perfect country, but neither is the United States or any country today. Here is what Israel is: the only democracy in the Middle East, a sanctuary for Muslims, Jews, and Christians, a thriving home for the LGBTQ community, and an innovator of incredible medical and modern technology. Each year, the United States budgets around $3.1 billion of aid for Israel. This money helps support vital military and research projects that are later used for intelligence sharing between Israel and the US. Without the continued support of the United States to Israel, projects like the Iron Dome and David’s Sling – military technologies that sense terrorist rockets in the air and counter them before hitting Israeli civilian neighborhoods – would not be possible.
“Come Together” was the theme of this year’s Policy Conference—a message highlighting the importance of unconditional bipartisan backing of the US-Israel relationship. While I think that this is an incredible message, this isn’t the entire reason I support Israel. Israel is in an extremely volatile neighborhood: Syria is falling apart at its seams, Hezbollah is tracking more and more influence in Lebanon, and radicalization is sweeping through the Middle East.
Just last week, Iran violated international code by illegally testing missiles without UN approval. Let’s just say Iran doesn’t have the best track record of compliance… What truly surprised and sickened me was what was written in Hebrew on the side of the rocket: “Israel must be wiped off the face of the Earth.” Threatening the existence of one country by another should not be condoned by any state and because of this, Israel has the right to protect herself. As the beacon of democracy, it is America’s responsibility to ensure Israel’s right to exist and protect herself from rising terrorist threats.