Another 8 Observations About AIPAC

Riffing off my recent post on the aftermath of the AIPAC convention and various associated issues, a Goldblog reader sent in the following further observations. Many of these points struck me as acute:

1. This was not a Jewish event - there was no food! Sure, if you were a member of one of
the "clubs" you probably got a lunch and/or a dinner, and if you were a member of one of the hosted groups, e.g. a region or an Ivy League student/alumni, you got an evening, reception, but if you were just an average attendee with no connections, no one even gave you a cup of coffee, let alone a cookie to go with it. (Not to mention that even the food service you could buy ran out of food for lunch on the first day).

2. This was not a Jewish event - there was no ruach (spirit)! Sure, we sang the national anthems once, and some of the smaller groups may have had some feelings, but in general, there was no pervasive, positive spirit. I have been to professional meetings and sales shows that had more feeling.

3. This was not a Jewish event - it was almost completely passive. Except for the opportunity to applaud when appropriate (or not) and standing in lines, there were the few who got to ask questions, but there was no real participant dialogue or discussion, nor did the program allow time for anything except to be informed by the "experts." Even the Action Principles were not even read out loud - they were handed out on paper and a vote was taken without their even being read.

4. This was not a Jewish event - there was no real dialogue. Since you were
either standing on line or hurrying to cross the convention center, you could not stay after most sessions to engage in dialogue with those who were in the same sessions. If you struck up a conversation about what you heard, you had to cut it short because one of you was on their way to somewhere else.

5. This was not a Jewish event - there was no opportunity to saying blessings before or after eating. IF you were in the group that did get a meal, and you did want to say blessings after eating, you were told to please hurry to your next session or hurry so that they could clear the room.

6. This was not a Zionist event - Herzl may have been pleased with the event - after all it
represents political Zionism, but I doubt that any of those in Aliyah Aleph (the first wave of Jewish immigrants to Ottoman Palestine) would have recognized the event. Was the word Zionism ever mentioned?

7. Maybe, this was a Jewish event - most sessions did not begin promptly, except for those where showing up on time meant you were late. Of course, being late was common since the lines and access were not well managed.

8. FORGET Iran's nuclear centrifuges. After all the tuna fish we ate, our mercury levels would make us radioactive.
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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.


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