NEAR EAST REPORT AIPAC'S BIWEEKLY ON AMERICAN MIDDLE EAST POLICY

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More than 1,000 AIPAC members from across the United States, including 120 students, attended the AIPAC National Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona.
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AIPAC National Summit attendees participated in dozens of breakout sessions on issues ranging from the “Arab Spring” to Israel’s Iron Dome rocket defense system.

AIPAC Holds National Summit in Arizona

More than 1,000 AIPAC members from across the United States, including 120 students, gathered in Scottsdale, Arizona on October 30-31, for the 2011 AIPAC National Summit. The Summit, which was open to AIPAC Capitol Club members and above, featured leading American and Israeli policy makers, members of Congress, diplomats, renowned political analysts and Middle East experts.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano addressed the Summit on the current state of U.S.-Israeli cooperation in the areas of security, counterterrorism and disaster response. “There’s no question but that a strong and secure Israel is in the national security interest of the United States,” she said. “In an age of globalized threats, we know that the security, the common security, that both of our nations face is more closely linked than ever before. … In the face of these shared threats, the bond between the United States and Israel has never been stronger.”

Ambassador Ron Prosor, the permanent representative of Israel to the United Nations, spoke to Summit delegates about the challenges Israel faces in international bodies, where the Jewish state is constantly singled out for criticism. He described the efforts he and the rest of the Israeli diplomatic service devote to presenting a full picture of Israel’s achievements and contributions to the world, encouraging people to view the country not just through the prism of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Ambassador Prosor’s remarks were followed by a foreign policy roundtable featuring Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Member of Knesset and Former Israeli Minister of Public Security Avi Dichter, and Elliott Abrams, senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and former deputy national security advisor. The panel described the current situation in the Middle East and debated what this situation means for American and Israeli interests.

The Sunday Gala Banquet featured Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who addressed the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East. “The ideals we seek to support and encourage in the development of civil societies in the Middle East and North Africa are the ideals that define Israel and America, and are the essence of our friendship,” he said. “We have not, and we will not, consider any interest in the Middle East more important than the integrity and future of our friendship with Israel.”

The banquet welcomed members of Congress and honored them for their support of the U.S.-Israel relationship. In attendance were, in addition to Sen. McCain, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Reps. Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Howard Berman (D-CA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Ben Quayle (R-AZ) and David Schweikert (R-AZ).

The next morning, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight and member of the Armed Services Committee, spoke to Summit delegates about the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship. “The relationship between the United States and Israel is crucial to our national security and the future of our world,” she said. “Protecting and advancing that relationship, including ensuring the safety and security of Israel, must remain the highest priority for our nation.”

Also featured in the Monday Morning Plenary was Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, as well as a roundtable celebrating Israel’s latest technological innovations, such as ReWalk, a technology that enables paraplegic patients to walk. AIPAC student activists from high schools, colleges and universities throughout Arizona were honored for their work.

Monday afternoon saw speeches by David Cohen, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, and Rabbi Harold Kushner, acclaimed author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Cohen described the administration’s efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear program through economic sanctions, while Kushner discussed the role of spirituality in Zionism today and reflected on the shared values between America and Israel.

The Summit concluded with a political panel on the 2012 election, featuring CNN’s Paul Begala, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, No Limits Foundation President Ann Lewis and NBC Analyst Mike Murphy.

This year’s Summit served as the stage for the launch of the AIPAC Congressional Club. The new club provides members with the opportunity to increase their levels of political activism, by recognizing those who support pro-Israel candidates seeking election or re-election to the House and Senate.

Next year’s AIPAC National Summit will take place October 14-15 in Boston, Massachusetts, and is only available to AIPAC members who contribute a minimum of $3,600 annually. Register today to reserve your spot at the 2012 AIPAC National Summit.

AIPAC Intern Brittney Herson contributed to this report. BACK TO TOP