By Laurie and David Weinstein
As first-time attendees, we met other first-timers from the Southeast at a regional orientation, then had a welcome reception with former New York Gov. George Pataki and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
That reception was loaded with stations of food, including a sushi bar and a carving station with coffee-crusted roast beef, as well as an open bar, while waitresses and waiters passed trays of cocktail franks, knishes and spinach quiches. We still made it to a traditional Shabbat dinner — matzah ball soup and all (dietary laws strictly enforced). House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, both from California, spoke at the dinner.
Continental breakfast the next morning led into the actual Leadership Meeting, highlighted by speakers Cruz, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri spoke at the luncheon that followed.
We then had a choice of four breakout sessions: “Israel’s Vibrant Economy and Start-up Culture” with Jonathan Medved; “Empowering Women in Politics” with Illinois Chief Operating Officer Linda Lingle (a former Hawaii governor), former Drug Enforcement Administration head Karen Tandy and Wagner; “Saving Western Civilization” with Kenneth Abramowitz, co-founder of NGN Capital; and our pick, “Combating BDS on College Campuses,” featuring AEPi Executive Director Andrew Borans, Brandeis student activist Daniel Mael, Weekly Standard writer Noah Pollak, and moderator Joel Pollak, Breitbart.com’s editor in chief.
With a son who attended Georgia Tech and belonged to AEPi, we wanted to hear about the rising anti-Semitism on campus, particularly affecting AEPi students. It was frightening to hear that anti-Semitism is prevalent and that colleges and universities are doing nothing to prevent it.
Sheldon Adelson and his wife attended this session and were outraged. A discussion ensued about what can be done, and Adelson and his wife assured the panel that they will fund all costs to ensure the safety of Jewish students on all campuses and will recruit their philanthropist friends to do the same.
That evening we attended another cocktail party as wonderful as the previous evening’s. Our dinner began late because of the end of Shabbat and featured as keynote speaker former President George W. Bush. His talk was off the record.
The meeting came to a close the following morning at breakfast, where public opinion guru Frank Luntz speak. Frank is known for his focus groups on Sean Hannity’s show.
People had preconceptions about the prospective presidential candidates before the weekend, but it seemed to be the consensus of those we spoke to that after they heard each of them speak, Ted Cruz was far above the rest. We all were impressed that he was unscripted (no TelePrompTer or notes) for over an hour and gave direct and clear answers to difficult questions.
As longtime members of the RJC, we enjoy all the programs the organization offers, whether with politicians, newspeople or others, but the focus is always on Israel. When we received a flier outlining this Spring Leadership Meeting, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sign up.
Meeting fellow Jewish Republicans, we realized they share our political belief that Israel is our top priority. It was evident that the speakers shared our views, and should any of them be elected, the relationship between the United States and Israel will become solid again.
We are looking forward to attending next year’s RJC spring meeting. For more information about the RJC, email firstname.lastname@example.org.