Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Heading out to AIPAC (part 1)

Around Town: The world outside of La Cañada

I haven’t left yet, but I’m already missing my husband. By the time you read this, I’ll be in Washington, D.C., to attend the annual American Jewish Public Affairs Committee policy conference with 25 other members of Adat Ari El Synagogue. There’s a couple of people attending from Pasadena Jewish Temple & Center, as well.

The annual policy conference is the “go to” place for information on Israel and the Middle East. This year’s speakers will include: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Opposition Leader and head of the Kadima Party, Tzipi Livni, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland), House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Virginia), Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Professor Alan Dershowitz and Governors Martin O’Malley (D-Maryland) and Tim Pawlenty (R-Minnesota).

There are also six or seven break-out sessions or classes. Six, if you take lunch and seven if you don’t. The classes are professors, various prognosticators and military leaders. There are too many to pick from and I’ve changed my selections several times. I’ve finally settled on several classes presented by IDF generals and ambassadors on rules of engagement and military strategy.

Like my husband says, “It’s not every day you get to meet a general.” Plus, this will give me talking points for those Starbucks Mondays with Dr. Joe, as we both scramble to meet our column deadlines.

I’ll also attend classes on the U.S. - Israeli Alliance, “Diplomatic Dance: Israel’s Relations with the Arab World,” “Pakistan’s Path: The Threat of a Failed Nuclear State” and the joint US-Israeli Missile Defense Program.

Due to the snafus with the Biden trip, this should be an interesting conference. Despite recent events, the big topic on “the Hill” is the concern over a nuclear-armed Iran — whether this would result in nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and elsewhere, and the backdrop of the recent civil unrest in that nation.

And then, there are the social issues that are not on the conference agenda. Subjects we all talk about. Issues of conversion, egalitarianism, progressive forms of spiritual practice, rules of divorce and the right of return. One of the many great things about America is that we are heirs and heiresses of Susan B. Anthony and the original Thursday Club suffragettes. Religious egalitarianism is one of America’s great gifts to the Jewish people. To all people, actually.

Rumor has it there are some other La Cañadans on this trip, but they like to keep it on the down low, so I won’t out them here.

It will be interesting

To be continued.

La Cañada Valley Sun: La Cañada Flintridge, California

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