By Sam Fishman
Sunday, March 1, was my first day ever going to the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. I am here with my father, which is great because we are able to discuss and analyze everything we see and hear.
My immediate impression of the conference was its sheer size. It is a truly incredible thought that 16,000 pro-Israel activists from all across America spend three days together learning, discussing, and, most important, advocating for Israel. It was inspiring to see such a wide variety of people there.
The fact that Jews, Christians, African-Americans, college students, high school students and many other groups can come together and voice their support for Israel is truly special.
The general session March 1 started at 9:30 a.m. with two notable speakers whom I am very familiar with, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina). Both reiterated their unwavering support for Israel.
They focused their bipartisan support on ensuring that Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon. The two of them mentioned that they are both proponents for accepting only a deal that ensures Iran will never obtain a nuclear weapon. Otherwise, both senators said, they will vote to increase sanctions and apply pressure on Iran to make more concessions.
The next great speaker, and undoubtedly the best one we saw, was Bret Stephens from The Wall Street Journal. He sat on a panel with three other gentlemen, including the moderator, Josh Block, the CEO of The Israel Project.
I was an avid fan of Stephens’ work before I saw him at the Policy Conference, but he exceeded all expectations. He articulates his points in such a straightforward and intellectual manner. It was quite refreshing to see after being around the political correctness of Capitol Hill for some time.
Stephens discussed issues ranging from the nuclear negotiations with Iran to the rise of Islamic State and the upcoming Israeli elections. The point he made that sticks out in my mind is that Islamic State could easily be defeated militarily. It has guns, but we have bigger and better ones. But the Islamic State ideology will be difficult to conquer.
Stephens has been an outspoken critic of the Obama administration, and that was quite evident in his AIPAC appearance. He indirectly called the administration out when saying that Islamic State’s ideology does not stem from radical Islam but from Islam itself. It is a point that I believe people need to start accepting to clear the path for Islamic State’s defeat.
Stephens provided more insight on the foreign policy issues that America and Israel face than I ever could have gotten anywhere else.
Along with hearing those esteemed experts, I had the honor of seeing a close friend of mine from the University of Maryland, which I attend: Michael Krasna. Michael, the president of Terps for Israel, the student AIPAC group at Maryland, spoke in a breakout session on high school advocacy.
Israel advocacy in high school and college is an important issue today because of the rise of anti-Semitism across the world, and it was great to see Michael combat it at the AIPAC Policy Conference.