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Half Members of US Congress Scramble to Express Allegiance to Israel in the First Day of AIPAC's Conference

March 22, 2010

A Bipartisan Celebration

AIPAC Website, Monday, March 22, 2010 - 6:00am

In a rare display of bipartisanship in the nation's capital, more than half of Congress will attend tonight's largest-ever AIPAC Gala Banquet to show their support for a strong U.S.-Israel alliance. About 8,000 people will sit down in halls D/E this evening, filling a room long enough to easily fit the Washington Monument on its side.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will deliver the keynote address. The prime minister's speech will come a few hours after his meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will speak at this morning's plenary session.

In addition, two longtime supporters of the U.S.-Israel relationship—Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC)—will speak at the banquet.

Senators, members of Congress, foreign diplomats, congressional candidates and other VIPs at the Gala Banquet will have their names read during the Roll Call, a lively Policy Conference tradition that has been a crowd favorite for many years. AIPAC National Board members Betsy Berns Korn and Howard Green will join AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr for the Roll Call.

The Gala Banquet will be the end of a full day of Monday programming. After Secretary Clinton speaks in the morning, delegates will head to lobbying workshops, where they will learn from AIPAC's top experts how to make the case for Israel on Capitol Hill tomorrow.

Diversity on Display

AIPAC website, Sunday, March 21, 2010 - 6:00am

You might think that Israel is strictly a Jewish issue. But with a quick look around the Washington Convention Center during the next three days, you'd see that the pro-Israel movement in the United States is growing more diverse each year. Jews and non-Jews, religious and secular, African Americans and Latinos—all of them are here to show their support for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.

At a breakout session this afternoon called "Emerging Alliance," three African American leaders—a pastor, an elected official and a civil rights icon—will explain how African Americans and Jews can unite around their common love of Israel.

In addition, 50 pastors and church leaders are attending the conference, which for the fourth year in a row features programming specifically designed for Christian supporters of the Jewish state. A panel discussion this afternoon called "Friends of Faith" will examine the roots of Christian Zionism and explore how pro-Israel Christians and Jews can work together in the political arena to strengthen Israel's security.

Jewish clergy are here, too. 225 rabbis and 15 cantors from across the United States will be treated to a special track of programming that includes a panel discussion on synagogue activism as well as a lunch with Israeli Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni.

And finally, for the sixth year in a row, AIPAC Policy Conference is welcoming nearly 100 pro-Israel activists from more than a dozen countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Argentina, Canada, Belgium and Switzerland.

These delegates from abroad will participate in the International Visitors Program, a track of forums and training sessions designed to help international guests hone their ability to advocate for strong relations between their home countries and Israel.

AIPAC Website, Legislative Impact

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - 6:00am

In a resounding show of support for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, thousands of AIPAC activists from all 50 states will ascend Capitol Hill today to conduct more than 500 lobbying meetings with members of Congress and their staff.

At the top of the agenda will be stopping Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability. AIPAC activists will encourage their representatives to call on top Congressional leaders to finalize work on Iran sanctions legislation that has overwhelmingly passed the House and Senate. They will also urge their members of Congress to sign letters to President Obama calling on him to impose "crippling sanctions" on Iran.

Delegates will also ask their members to sign House and Senate letters to President Obama that urge him the president to use his existing authority to sanction Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, isolate Iran's banking system, and limit Iran's ability to import refined petroleum, among other measures.

The bipartisan House letter is spearheaded by Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) and Mike Pence (R-IN). Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are leading the Senate version.

While in their Capitol Hill meetings, AIPAC activists will also ask their members of Congress to sign letters to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that urge her to reaffirm the strength of the U.S.-Israel relationship and call for any differences between the two nations to be resolved amicably as befits longstanding strategic allies.

The bipartisan House letter is spearheaded by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), while the Senate version is being led by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA).

Finally, the AIPAC citizen-lobbyists will be asking their representatives to support $3 billion in security assistance to Israel as part of the fiscal year 2011 budget. The aid request reflects the third year of the 10-year Memorandum of Understanding, signed in 2007, which called for a gradual increase in U.S. security assistance to the Jewish state in order to meet growing regional threats.

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