The annual conference, this year held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center located at 801 Mt Vernon Place in Washington, DC, is the premier pro-Israel conference held in the United States.
The AIPAC website notes:
The AIPAC Policy Conference is the largest gathering of America's pro-Israel community. Through demonstrations of groundbreaking Israeli innovations, keynote speeches by American and Israeli leaders, inspiring moments on stage, and intimate educational sessions, Policy Conference delegates experience the full scale of pro-Israel activism in three powerful days.More than 15,000 pro-Israel Americans are expected, says the website.
It is hardcore.
Simone Zimmerman tells us that at the conference last March, "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Washington to denounce the Obama administration’s diplomatic initiative with Iran. ”
For a small group, only 2.2% of the American population is Jewish, they do know how to get the attention of political leadership. Other small groups, (3.2% of the population is Polish, for example. The American Indian population is 2.8%), can only dream about getting such focus on them by the national political class.
What's more, AIPAC is laced with militantly pro-Israel neoconservatives. The leading neoconservative, by birth, Bill Kristol will also be speaking.
Ted Cruz, in an attempt to keep his presidential campaign alive, has turned to aligning himself with the neoconservatives.
Paul Mulshine writes:
Till now, Ted Cruz has always straddled the line between traditional conservatism and the left-wing liberal internationalist movement known as "neo" conservatism.
No more. Cruz has sold his soul to the neocons.
That became obvious the other day when Cruz announced a team of foreign-policy advisers with some of the nuttiest neocons in America on it.
Among them is Elliott Abrams, who is so completely neoconservative that he practically defines the term.
Then there is Frank Gaffney, who set something of a new standard for neocon nuttiness when he argued that Saddam Hussein was behind the bombing of that federal building in Oklahoma for which Timothy McVeigh was executed.
With the scene set this way, Trump will walk into the convention on Monday, after having said during a debate that he wants to remain neutral on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because it is one of the toughest deals to attempt to negotiate.
There are already indications that some will protest his speech but the protesters appear to be from a group that is opposed to his anti-Muslim stance.
The Jewish Telegraph Agency reports:
Two rabbis, Rabbi David Paskin of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and Rabbi Jesse Olitzky of Congregation Beth El in Orange, New Jersey, have organized a protest they dubbed “Come Together Against Hate,” a play on the theme of this year’s America Israel Public Affairs Committee annual conference in Washington, D.C., “Come Together.”
The rabbis plan to have volunteers hand conference-goers stickers with the slogan as they enter the event, and to organize a two-pronged boycott of Trump’s speech. Some protesters will simply not attend, while others will walk out when Trump enters and convene at another spot... to study Torah passages against hate.“We come together as Rabbis, Cantors, Jewish Professionals, and members of the Jewish community to repudiate the ugliness that Mr. Trump espouses,” the initiative said on its website.
Those staying for Trump's speech will, of course, want to hear what his views are on Israel. There are some indications that he may believe that Israel should be treated as the 51st state of the United States. He has received new support in recent days from Sheldon Adelson (SEE:Oh Boy, Fawning Coverage of Donald Trump in Super-Neocon Sheldon Adelson Israeli Newspaper ), the Las Vegas multi-billionaire, who has declared in the past that Israel is his only cause. In the past, Adelson has backed with many millions of dollars, the pro-Israel presidential campaigns of Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani. Two politicians, among the few, that have said positive things about Trump.
It is difficult to see Adelson's new found positive perspective on Trump unless he is very comfortable that Trump would bring to the White House a pro-Israeli policy view.
Some libertarians hold the view that Trump will be less of a war hawk than other current presidential candidates. This perspective seems somewhat problematic given that he has already stated that he would put American boots on the ground in the Middle East to fight ISIS, though he does appear to be less bellicose toward Russia and it's president, Vladimir Putin.
And so, both libertarians and Jews will be listening carefully on Monday to see how willing Trump is to commit to Israel against real and imagined enemies in the greater Middle East.
Will Trump, as he often does, speak in generalities that will make none at the conference satisfied? Will he speak from prepared remarks, something he has not done in the campaign to date? Will he show knowledge of the conflict from the perspective of the hardline Israelis? Will he signal to those attending the conference that he will be tough on the countries those in attendance view as enemies of Israel?
What, indeed, will Trump say to the Jews?