My experience at the 2017 AIPAC Policy Conference was extremely valuable and educational, something that I had expected going into the conference. It’s impressive to hear about the amazing, life-changing innovations that have been developed in Israel such as technology that produces drinkable water from thin air and smart phones that can be used by people who are paralyzed from the neck down. You feel pride when you hear about the great work of the IDF mobile field hospital which travels to places around the world devastated by crises such as earthquakes and tsunamis, and that Israel received the highest ranking of 83 countries from the United Nation’s World Health Organization, and about how the IDF medical staff treats victims of Syria’s civil war in Israeli facilities along the Israeli-Syrian border.
However, the most surprising yet meaningful thing that I learned at AIPAC is how many non-Jews support AIPAC and Israel. I had incorrectly assumed that because Israel is a Jewish state, most of its supporters are the Jewish people, along with politicians and other public figures who want to gain the Jewish voters’ support. Having attended the AIPAC Policy Conference has taught me that Israel’s base of support is comprised of people from every religion and ethnicity imaginable. Through AIPAC, I have come to realize that Israel is so much more than a Jewish state; it is a holy country for many religions, where all people can feel welcomed and accepted, something that is not common in the Middle East. While it is true that I could have acquired this information without having gone to the AIPAC Policy Conference, it is very different to learn information through the media versus hearing it firsthand. Had someone told me that a number of countries in Africa, including Rwanda and Togo, may be some of Israel’s strongest allies, I might not have truly understood what that meant. However, seeing the president of Rwanda give a speech at a pro-Israel conference about Rwanda’s strong support for Israel, and seeing Togo’s minister of foreign affairs not only preach about his and his country’s undeniable support for Israel, but also sing the Shema in a beautiful melody in front of a crowd of thousands of people, a song that he learned on an AIPAC-sponsored trip to Israel, has truly enabled me to understand what it means for Israel to have support from every denomination of people.