Sometimes the best way to learn is by listening to others. At AIPAC Policy Conference 2017, I took five breakout sessions that helped to further my knowledge on the history of Israel and its neighbors. The general sessions taught me the status of the American-Israeli relationship and I learned of inspiring stories. The Israeli innovations displayed downstairs at the AIPAC Village, displayed the power of the mind. From my time at AIPAC, I gained a vast amount of new knowledge.
The breakout sessions each had very interesting speakers with expert knowledge and opinions on the topics. Most of the sessions involved more than one expert in the subject. In my first session, a panel of four, specializing in their respective fields, discussed the situation in the Middle East. They talked about the complicated situation of the involvement of different countries in the conflicts of the Middle East. Another breakout session was focused on the story of a major general, involved in the wars in 1967 and 1973. He gave a new perspective as he was the commander of the only brigade stationed at the Suez Canal. The major general described the relationship between him and his superiors. He wanted to reposition his tanks, but his superiors did not approve of it so he could not do what he wished. The soldier explained to us why he wanted to do that move and what he thought would have happened if had been allowed.
A session on the past, present, and future of the Islamic State gave insight into how various world governments view this issue. A man from the FBI talked about ISIS recruiting techniques and he shared stories of those who tried to join. Each breakout session housed experts sharing their views and the facts.
Many respected individuals spoke at the general sessions about the position of America in the relationship with Israel and amazing stories were shared. Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about the American-Israeli relationship. He stated, “…Israel has no greater friend than America and America has no greater friend than Israel.” Even in the new presidency, Israel has confirmed its strong and important relations with the United States. During a different general session, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan also confirmed the relationship.
Also, the story of a man who repairs violins from the Holocaust was shared. The speaker’s father collected violins that people did not want, since they belonged to their family members during the Holocaust. The violins were restored to almost perfect or perfect condition. This tradition was passed down from father to son. After the story was told, “Hatikvah” was played on the violin by a world-famous violinist and it was accompanied by thousands of singing voices, from AIPAC attendees, all singing the same words. The experience was very unifying.
The general sessions helped to verify the relationship with the two countries.
An expo showcasing life-changing inventions was present in the AIPAC Village. One invention pulled water out of thin air. The machine collected the necessary atoms to create water and then the newly created water was filtered. Israel, like California, does not have an unlimited supply of water. This machine is designed to be used in the desert or in other arid areas. I had the opportunity to taste this water and the water tasted like regular water.
Another interesting invention aided paralyzed individuals in using smartphones. By incorporating a facial sensor and other types of sensors, a paralyzed man was able to unlock his phone and navigate in and out of the apps. Both of these inventions were created by Israelis, trying to make important contributions to the world. The Israeli inventions were extremely impressive.
The overall experience of AIPAC made me feel an even closer connection to the State of Israel. I learned about Israel and its relations with the countries surrounding it. The development of the Islamic State was also discussed. The incredible and life-changing inventions were displayed for all to see. I cannot wait for next year’s conference!