I can’t imagine which AIPAC Policy Conference Gilbert Kahn attended (“Rooting for Israel before a team’s in place,” March 7), since he described “little urgency,” delegates with “little fire in their bellies,” and experiencing a tone of “boredom.” The conference that I, my family, fellow Temple Beth Shalom delegates, and many friends experienced was at once exhilarating, inspiring, and exhausting.
Little urgency? With the rise of Islamism in Egypt and throughout the region, Syria in the throes of a civil war with the possibility of its enormous stockpile of chemical weapons being transferred to terrorists, Jordan experiencing instability, the recent UN General Assembly resolution upgrading the Palestinian Authority to non-member state status, and the steady march of Iran toward nuclear weapons capability, there was a palpable sense of urgency at the conference.
Little fire in our bellies? When the many speakers brought me and 13,000 other delegates to our feet, we not only had fire in our bellies but passion in our hearts. I am sure the rest of the 500-strong New Jersey delegation felt overcome with pride as I was to hear our senator, Bob Menendez, declare, “The argument for Israel’s legitimacy does not depend on what we say in speeches. It has been made by history. It has been made by the men and women who have made the desert green, by Nobel Prizes earned, by groundbreaking innovations and enviable institutions, by lives saved, democracy defended, peace made, battles won. There can be no denying the Jewish people’s legitimate right to live in peace and security on a homeland to which they have had a connection for thousands of years.”
Boredom? No. On the stage before us we witnessed just a few of the magnificent technological advances Israel has given the world. Among other miraculous developments, research at Hebrew University is making it possible for the blind to see and the ReWalk allows paraplegics to stand and walk. Thousands shed tears of astonishment and joy as we saw how Israel is fulfilling the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened…Then the lame shall leap like a deer….”
I urge each of you reading this letter to come to the AIPAC Policy Conference next year for an experience so uplifting you will never forget it.