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From March 24-26, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the largest American Israel lobby, will convene in Washington, D.C., for its annual Policy Conference. This gathering comes at a particularly interesting and exciting moment: just two weeks before the Israeli general elections on April 9.
AIPAC, which traditionally stays away from internal Israeli politics, last week made a bold statement by criticizing the current prime minister for his decision to reach out to Oztma Yehudit (Jewish Power), an extremist party, to encourage its leaders to run in the upcoming elections and offering them a promising spot on another party’s list. The20-word message, tweeted by AIPAC late on Friday, February 21, sent shock waves through the political establishment here.
It also was a show of support for an earlier statement made by another powerful group, the American Jewish Committee (AJC). AJC expressed concern about an agreement – fostered by Netanyahu, who is seeking to strengthen his right-wing base for the April 9 general election — that unites three small parties, including a faction comprising followers of Rabbi Meir Kahane, who’s party previously was banned from Israeli politics for its racist ideology and incitement to violence.
The Policy Conference will be an important campaign stop for the prime minister, who also is contending with an announcement by Israel’s attorney general, who intends to indict him (after a hearing) for numerous corruption charges.
On the American political front, we are seeing an unprecedented move by generally pro-Israel Democratic Senators Bob Menendez from New Jersey and Ben Cardin from Maryland to be outwardly critical of the Israeli premier. This development casts further doubt on the strength of bi-partisan support for Israel, which has been so essential for the State of Israel.
Recently, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-MN, called out the pro-Israel lobby in a tweet of her own accusing the lobby of buying representatives’ support for Israel, which resulted in a storm of criticism of her from the pro-Israel community.
This year, the Reform Movement will have a prominent showing at AIPAC’s Policy Conference and we invite you to these sessions and events: