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L-R:Zach Segal,Ashley Faintuch, Lee Rosenberg, President of AIPAC,and Marlee Mozeson.
photo- Zach Segal

photo by Rhonda Spivak

AIPAC GALA BANQUET. Largest catered kosher meal in the World
photo by Rhonda Spivak


by Ashley Faintuch,May 28,2011

Attending the AIPAC Policy Conference was an experience like no other, and I would like to thank the Winnipeg Jewish Review's Editor, Rhonda Spivak for providing me with this opportunity, for which I am grateful.

As a CJPAC [Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee]Fellow and young involved adult, the conference was  a happening and I was one of over 1500 students in attendance, from all races, ethnicities and backgrounds. In my opinion, students gain the most out of the conference, since they are fighting the uphill battle of anti-Israel sentiment on campus. AIPAC provides an opportunity to network with other students, while increasing knowledge and providing information on Israel to take back to campus, or in other words, to turn info into ammo.           

The atmosphere at the AIPAC Policy Conference is one like no other; I have never stood in solidarity with like-minded individuals of that number [10,000], and other students agree. Shimmy Posen, a CJPAC Fellow and Osgoode Law student said “The magnitude of the conference is inspirational for any pro-Israel activist to know that they are not alone.” Another CJPAC Fellow and Law Student at Western, Jared Schwartz, stated that the conference was “an unbelievable experience that I'll never forget. It was a great pleasure being surrounded by thousands of the world's foremost advocates for Israel. I feel more connected and more in-tune to the pro-Israel community than ever.”

A crowd this size is also inspirational and motivating for a budding young activist. It demonstrates that you are not fighting alone – although there are times it may feel like it – and there are tens of thousands of people helping you out.

The conference also provides a great deal of networking opportunities, especially for students. Gabriella Lerner, student at the University of California – Davis, Founder of Aggies for Israel (on campus Israel club) and member of the Jewish Student Union and Sigma Alpha Epsillon Pi thinks the conference is an “incredible experience where students get to meet so many people, and gain so many personal contacts.” Gabriella is right, the conference provides a forum to meet other students who care about Israel, and build long term relationships to discuss the issues on campus and various ideas and programs to counter issues and send positive Israel messaging. Additionally, at AIPAC's conference there are representatives from countless pro-Israel organizations, creating awareness about their organization and how they can help students be successful on campus with their messaging and programming.

Boaz Witbeck, a student at Arizona State University West Campus, President and Founder of American-Israeli Alliance (a student organization on campus) and member of Christians United For Israel felt the “AIPAC Policy Conference renewed my passion to support Israel as I saw ten thousand supporters stand and cheer for both security and peace for the state of Israel. With a lineup of outstanding speakers, this highly educational conference was one that I will not forget.” 

Most importantly, the focus of the conference, talked about the US and Israel relations. As Zach Paikin, CJPAC Fellow, student at McGill University and Founder of McGill Friends of Israel said, “AIPAC promotes the indispensable alliance between the United States and Israel, two peoples with shared values and shared interests. It is my hope that this unbreakble bond between two great nations will serve as an inspiration to the youth of the world, whether they live in a liberal democracy or are still fighting for their freedom.”

Eric Schorr, Hasbara Fellowships New York Campus Coordinator, President of LionPAC, the largest pro-Israel organization on campus, and student at Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, summed up the conference nicely. The most important thing he took away from AIPAC's Policy Conference “is that support for Israel exists regardless of religion, race, or partisan ideology. The importance of the US-Israel relationship is put on full display for all to see and people have the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals who care just as deeply as them for the security and safety of the State of Israel.

I think that it is time for Canada to have a similar conference, for students, adults and Israel supporters of all partisanship, religions and races. The Canadian pro-Israel community needs to be strengthened, and we need to strengthen our solidarity and networks, and meet thousands of other like-minded individuals: those who support Israel, peace and security. This forum will increase the number of advocates in Canada through education and engagement, while strengthening the existing advocates, and provide examples of Canada and Israel working together.
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.