AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is a lobbying group that empowers Pro-Israel Americans to lobby Congress through bipartisan means. Since AIPAC is a bipartisan lobbying group, they interact with both Democrats and Republicans. The main item on their agenda is to strengthen the US-Israel relationship. I attended their Schusterman Advocacy High School Summit two weeks ago, during which I became educated on AIPAC's policy initiatives and how they operate.
Check-in for the conference began around 4:00 PM. Since the session did not begin until around 5:30, I had downtime to catch up with my international BBYO friends. The conference started shortly afterward with an introduction to the issues Israel is facing and an overview of the importance of the US-Israel relationship. After the introduction, we ate dinner and were split into groups where we would form a mock house of representatives. I came out of this activity with a broad, but better understanding of congress than I had previously.
On Monday, the second day of the conference, AIPAC educated us on the politics of the Middle East. These lectures ranged from the instability Turkey is facing with the Kurdish, to the terrorist threat middle eastern governments are facing with Hezbollah on the rise. All of these lectures were fascinating and crucial to prepare us for lobbying congress the next day.
That night there was a carnival where all of the delegates attending the conference, not just BBYO, got to socialize through gaga, rink hockey and dancing. These delegates were from all sects of Judaism ranging from Reform to Orthodox. Most held some sort of position in their organizations/schools.
The next morning, Tuesday, we had one final lecture from AIPAC speakers and then we went to lobby on capitol hill. The congressman who I lobbied was Donald Norcross with a few others from my region. Our lobbying session went well and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I had learned from the conference and how well I was able to apply it during our lobbying session. I certainly was not an expert on the issue by a long stretch, but I felt that I had learned enough about the US-Israel relationship to hold my own in an argument. Speaking in front of a congressman helped me gain greater confidence in my public speaking ability.
After lobbying, myself and other BBYO delegates visited BBYO headquarters and got to see how BBYO runs first hand. BBYO staff gave us some cool swag and we got to say goodbye to our friends before they returned home. AIPAC is having another conference in March called Policy Conference, which I fully intended on attending because of the amazing experience I got from this conference. If you are interested in the US-Israel relationship and have a passion for politics, this conference is a perfect choice for you that I feel you won't regret.
Charlie Rosin is an Aleph from Chapel AZA #245 and swims for his high school swim team.More Stories
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