OpinionU.S.-Israel Relations

Focus on Netanyahu, Gantz missed real point of AIPAC conference

Two weeks before Israel’s general elections, in the midst of explosive rhetoric and divisive discourse, the Americans did a zoom out and took a picture of us. The big picture.

The 2018 AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. on March 6, 2018. Photo by Haim Zach/GPO.
The 2018 AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. on March 6, 2018. Photo by Haim Zach/GPO.
Sivan Rahav-Meir
Sivan Rahav-Meir
Sivan Rahav-Meir is an Israeli prime-time news reporter and TV host, as well as a sought-after speaker in Israel and overseas. Translated from the original Hebrew by Yocheved Lavon.

What really happened last week at the annual AIPAC conference, apart from speeches by Benny Gantz and Benjamin Netanyahu?

A friend of mine who was there told me that for her, the presentations by those two prime-ministerial hopefuls weren’t the high points of the conference at all.

We are talking about a three-day-long, awe-inspiring salute to Israel. And the Americans chose exactly which Israelis they wanted to see and empower.

While in Israel, relations with Israeli Arabs are turbulent, to AIPAC they brought Dr. Yasmeen Abu Fraiha to tell her personal story. She was born in Tel Sheva in southern Israel and is now a doctor of internal medicine at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva, as well as a revolutionary social entrepreneur in Bedouin society, especially among women.

George Deek gave a remarkable lecture. He is the first Arab-Christian to be appointed as an Israeli ambassador; he will soon serve in Azerbaijan. He explained to the audience how he chose to exit the cycle of hatred and become an Israeli diplomat who fights the BDS movement.

Former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz addresses the 2019 AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 25, 2019. Credit: Screenshot.

Rivka Ravitz, the chief of staff of the President’s Residence and a haredi mother of 11, drew attention right alongside the many Israeli high-tech startups.

Social startups were also presented: Yad Tamar has developed a community-support model for cancer patients. They call this optimistic accompaniment in treatment “sociotherapy,” a vital complement to those undergoimg chemotherapy.

The “One Family” organization, established by Michal Belzberg at the age of 12 (!), helps families of terror victims. At AIPAC, they presented the empire that has sprouted up in the last two decades—they support 12,000 men, women and chidren with an impressive 500 volunteers—that provides assistance to those injured in terrorist attacks or wars.

There are many other examples, even before we mention the enthusiastic speeches of the many American supporters of Israel who got up onto the stage, as well as President of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernández and Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă, who announced at AIPAC their desire to move the country’s embassy to Jerusalem.

Two weeks before Israel’s general elections, in the midst of explosive rhetoric and divisive discourse, the Americans did a zoom out and took a picture of us. The big picture.

Maybe we have to hold an event like this in Israel, too, for us to see ourselves.

Sivan Rahav-Meir is an Israeli prime-time news reporter and TV host, as well as a sought-after speaker in Israel and overseas.

Translated from the original Hebrew by Yocheved Lavon.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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