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

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Vice President Joe Biden speaks to a crowd of 13,000 pro-Israel activists at the 2013 AIPAC Policy Conference.
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Former Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak speaks at the AIPAC Policy Conference.

2013 AIPAC Policy Conference: Looking Back

The 2013 AIPAC Policy Conference was one for the record books.

Thousands of pro-Israel activists gathered for an emotional and profoundly inspiring three days that emphasized the strength of the strategic partnership between the United States and Israel. From exclusive roundtables with leading experts on the Middle East and foreign policy to entertaining performances by international renowned pro-Israel musicians, this Policy Conference highlighted the celebration of joint success and collaboration between the United States and Israel.

Some 13,000 Policy Conference delegates listened firsthand as former Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke of the challenges facing the Jewish homeland and reminded delegates of the importance of their support.

"The State of Israel simply would not be the strong island of stability it is," he said, "without one crucial constant: You! The United States of America. Its people. Its leadership. Its Congress. Its Jewish community."

Later in the conference, Vice President Joe Biden echoed Barak's sentiments, affirming the Obama administration's strong support for Israel.

The vice president also declared America's determination to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. "President Barack Obama is not bluffing," he insisted. "We are not looking for war. We are looking to and ready to negotiate peacefully. But all options, including military force, are on the table."

On the third and final day of the conference, thousands of AIPAC delegates met with all 100 senators and every House member—a landmark achievement in Policy Conference history. AIPAC members urged their House and Senate members to send a strong message that the United States will act to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.

AIPAC activists also asked their representatives to strengthen U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation by supporting legislation that officially designates Israel a "major strategic partner." Such a step would help the two nations maximize the benefits of their alliance.

Finally, AIPAC activists urged their lawmakers to support the full $3.1 billion in security assistance to Israel that the United States pledged for fiscal years 2013 and 2014, as well as the $211 million in additional funding for the Iron Dome rocket defense system.

The energy and camaraderie of these three important days will carry delegates through the coming months with renewed purpose and commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship. AIPAC's role in highlighting and strengthening this partnership is more important than ever in light of the growing threats facing Israel and the West.

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