Thirty Oregonians joined the record-breaking 14,000 pro-Israel political activists attending the 2012 AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, DC, March 4-6.
Activists heard stirring speeches from President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli President Shimon Peres, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. Dozens of high-level breakout sessions featured insight from scholars, government officials and experts like Elliot Abrams, Donna Brazile, Bret Stephens, Mitchell Bard, Aaron David Miller, Martin Indyk, Frank Luntz, Michael Singh, Robert Satloff and Avi Jorisch.
On March 6, AIPAC activists held a record 530 meetings with members of Congress. The Oregon AIPAC delegation filled the offices of Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and held individual meetings with all five of Oregon’s House members (Reps. Greg Walden, Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader and Suzanne Bonamici, as well as Vancouver, WA, Rep. Jamie Herrera-Beutler).
During the lobbying sessions, activists spoke to legislators on behalf of continued U.S. security assistance to Israel and enhanced security cooperation between the two nations, as well as how to stop Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, from obtaining the world’s deadliest weapons. Specifically, they lobbied for Senate passage of SB 2101 (the companion bill to already passed HB 1905), which would impose more extensive sanctions on Iran; and Senate and House resolutions that would make it U.S. policy to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capability, and rule out “containment” of a nuclear-capable Iran as a viable option – both points that President Obama emphasized in his address to AIPAC on March 4.
The Oregon AIPAC delegation included State Chair Ken Kwartler; Council members Steve Rosenberg, David Rozansky and Sharon Ungerleider; Federation Community Relations/Allocations Director Bob Horenstein; and more than a dozen members of Ducks for Israel, a University of Oregon student group.
The upcoming 2012 Oregon AIPAC Community Dinner will be April 29 at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center in Portland. For dinner information, call AIPAC’s Pacific Northwest office in Seattle at 206-624-5152.