The annual American Israel Political Action Committee policy conference starts Sunday in Washington D.C. Here's AIPAC's promotional video:
In a 2005 Washington Post column, "AIPAC's Big, Bigger, Biggest Moment," Dana Milbank wrote:
How much clout does AIPAC have?
Well, consider that during the pro-Israel lobby's annual conference yesterday, a fleet of police cars, sirens wailing, blocked intersections and formed a motorcade to escort buses carrying its conventioneers -- to lunch.
The annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has long produced a massive show of bipartisan pandering, as lawmakers praise the well-financed and well-connected group. But this has been a rough year for AIPAC -- it has dismissed its policy director and another employee while the FBI examines whether they passed classified U.S. information to Israel -- and the organization is eager to show how big it is....
Another 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."
"More," "most," "largest," "top": The superlatives continued, and deliberately. In his speech Sunday, the group's executive director, Howard Kohr, said the "record attendance" at the conference would dispel questions about AIPAC raised by the FBI investigation."This is a test, a test of our collective resolve," Kohr said of the "unique challenge" presented by the FBI probe, "and your presence here today sends a message to every adversary of Israel, AIPAC and the Jewish community that we are here, and here to stay." (The official text has two exclamation points after that sentence.) Kohr, without mentioning the fired staffers, told participants that "neither AIPAC nor any of its current employees is or ever has been the target."
Unlike the puny turnout of 5,000 delegates a half dozen years ago, AIPAC is expecting 10,000 delegates this year.
Here's a 2011 speaker's list:
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The Honorable Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister, State of Israel
The Honorable John Boehner (R-OH)
Speaker of the House, U.S. House of Representatives
The Honorable Harry Reid (D-NV)
Majority Leader, U.S. Senate
The Honorable Robert Casey (D-PA)
The Honorable John Thune (R-SD)
The Honorable Eric Cantor (R-VA)
Majority Leader, U.S. House of Representatives
The Honorable Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
Democratic Whip, U.S. House of Representatives
Mr. Jim Woolsey
Former Director, Central Intelligence Agency
The Honorable Martin Indyk
Vice President for Foreign Policy, Brookings Institution; Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel
Mr. Dan Senor
Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle East Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Mr. Paul Begala
Democratic Political Analyst and CNN Contributor
Mr. Ralph Reed
President, Century Strategies
Wouldn't it be simpler if American Jews just had a college football team to root for, the way American Catholics had the Notre Dame Fighting Irish?