This week, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), self-described "America's Pro-Israel Lobby", had it's annual policy conference in Washington D.C.
From the Washington Post:
The groups fact sheet announced that this is the "largest ever" conference, with its 5,000 participants attending "the largest annual seated dinner in Washington" joined by "more members of Congress than almost any other event, except for a joint session of Congress or a State of the Union address." The group added that its membership "has nearly doubled" over four years to 100,000 and that the National Journal calls it "one of the top four most effective lobbying organizations."
Informal administration foreign policy adviser Richard N. Perle provoked cheers from the crowd when he favored a military raid on Iran, saying that "if Iran is on the verge of a nuclear weapon, I think we will have no choice but to take decisive action." When Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) said the "best short-term option" is the U.N. Security Council, the crowd reacted with boos.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, the event was attended by half the Senate and a third of the House of Representatives.
Vice President Dick Cheney Spoke
From the Jewish Journal:
"Friends owe it to friends to be as candid as possible," he said. "My friends, it is simply not consistent for anyone to demand aggressive action against the menace that is posed by the Iranian regime while at the same time acquiescing in a retreat from Iraq that would leave Israel's best friend, the United States, dangerously weakened." and later: [From The Jewish Daily Forward] “Israel has never had a better friend in the White House than George Bush.”
He outlined his view of the "war on terror" by arguing that "the only option for our security and survival is to go on the offensive, facing the threat directly, patiently and systematically until the enemy is destroyed." [From Zawya]
Congressman Lieberman Spoke
From the Jewish Journal:
"There is something profoundly wrong when, in the face of attacks by radical Islam, we think we can find safety and stability by pulling back, by talking to and accommodating our enemies, and abandoning our friends and allies," Lieberman said to a group that he likes to call "family."
His remarks were closed to the press, but Lieberman's office distributed the remarks Tuesday, and within minutes they were forwarded to Jewish leaders by the White House liaison to the Jewish community with a note labeling them as "important."
According to the aforementioned Washington Post article, the event included "a fleet of police cars, sirens wailing, blocked intersections and formed a motorcade to escort buses". And also dissenting voices as protesters gathered outside according to Media Monitors Network: From Mark Braverman: “As an American Jew, I’m here to protest AIPAC’s control of Congress. It is a very self-destructive course for America to be supporting Israel unconditionally.” To Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss of the Neturei Karta International, “Jews United Against Zionism.” He said: “AIPAC stands for a rebellion against God...What they are doing is against the Torah...AIPAC should be stopped...And the state of Israel should be...peacefully dismantled.”
Israel receives the largest percentage of US foreign aid (primarily for its military). Over $7.7 million/per day according to this chart by The American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise.
A Media Artist's Response To Failing Diplomacy
When BriAnna Olson's pacifist views were confronted by an adamant American couple, she decided to heed their challenge and head to Tehran-- the epicenter of the Axis of Evil nation.
Amongst a landscape of failed diplomacy and media smear campaigns, she and fellow artist Michael Pope found a society far more alive and hospitable than they'd ever been led to believe.
Like jesters of a modern-day Magellan, they've returned with stories and insights to a culture few American's have seen first hand.