What never ceases to amaze me about AIPAC is the diversity represented at Policy Conference both politically and demographically. I have been fortunate enough to have been involved with AIPAC for a few years now, having spent a month interning in the New York office, working as the campus liaison for Dartmouth, as well as attending multiple conferences. The greatest part of being involved with AIPAC is the relationships that I have developed with students from other schools and the various ways that they have come to be involved with AIPAC. Part of the reason that AIPAC has enjoyed such prolonged success through bipartisanship is the diversity reflected in AIPAC’s activists. For example, I had never met a Mormon until I attended the Saban student leadership conference this past December. My roommates at this conference were a Hispanic student from the University of California at Merced, and a student at Dillard, a historically Black college in New Orleans. In a time when much of the American-Jewish news is dominated by the hostility shown towards Israel supporters on college campuses, it is reassuring to see students of various ethnicities, religions, and political views that are wholeheartedly committed to AIPAC’s mission.
My advice to those who are unsure of whether or not to become involved, or even attend Policy Conference next year, is to go. While it is a hectic three days, if for nothing else, I would encourage everyone to attend simply for the learning experience of listening to politicians from across the globe and renowned scholars from every field. As a proud progressive, I particularly enjoyed listening to two female members of Knesset: Rachel Azaria (Kulanu) and Merav Michaeli (Zionist Union) debate the first openly gay member of Likud (Amir Ohana) about issues that rarely pertained to Iran, Hamas, or Hezbollah. Many people tend to forget that there is an Israel beyond the constant chaos of the Middle East. Policy Conference is the perfect spotlight for all the good done by Israel between technology, medicine, and the freedoms afforded to Israelis that may not be available in other parts of the region. Policy Conference allows us as activists to be armed with the knowledge necessary to combat hostility shown towards Israel.