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The student news site of Clayton High School.

The Globe

The student news site of Clayton High School.

The Globe

CHS Students Attend AIPAC Policy Conference

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CHS students David Iken (top row, far left), Sarah Casteel (bottom row, far left), and Yossi Katz (top row, third form right) joined high school students form around the St. Louis area at the 2013 AIPAC Policy Conference. Here they are seen on Capitol Hill.

For a few days in March, several CHS students joined 13,000 other Americans descending upon Washington for the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual Policy Conference. For two days, David Iken, Sarah Casteel, and I attended lectures and discussions ran by Middle East scholars and diplomats. We spent the third and final day lobbying our representatives. I personally spoke to Senator McCaskill about the importance of continuing military aid to Israel; I also blogged about the conference for NCSY, a national Jewish youth organization.

We listened to panels made up of Israeli and American military officials, and members of prominent Washington think tanks analyze issues ranging from Hamas, to Egypt, to Iran, and to Israeli and Palestinian politics. The panels took questions from the general public, which in turn added additional perspectives to each debate.

After a full day of panelists, all 13,000 delegates gathered in one enormous room for the evening’s speeches. Between the first two nights, Senators John McCain, John Cornyn, and Kirsten Gillibrand spoke, as well as Canadian and Italian diplomats. There’s something about being in such an enormous room with so many people – all there for the exact same reason – that exemplifies how strong the pro-Israel cause is.

Throughout the convention center, I saw religious and nonreligious Jews; I saw a black Christian minister; I saw Americans of all backgrounds come together to show their support for Israel and for the U.S.-Israel Relationship. Such a diverse spread of delegates makes one think about the importance of our cause.

On the second evening, all 13,000 delegates crowded into the enormous hall for speeches from two behemoths of political figures – U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Netanyahu spoke from Jerusalem via webcam). All of the speakers spoke to the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship and Israel’s need to defend itself from both external and internal threats. Specifically, the need to continue American funding for Israeli defense technologies like Iron Dome and David’s Sling was highlighted.

The third and final day of AIPAC consisted of lobbying our Congressional representatives on issues ranging from military aid to Israel to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb. We joined up with other St. Louis-area delegates to lobby Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill, as well as Representative Lacy Clay. Rep. Clay was especially interested in our viewpoints, as t he apparently loves to hear from high school students.
It was refreshing to hear from such a diverse, bipartisan selection of our representatives of their support for the only democracy in the Middle East, and America’s closest strategic ally in the region.

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CHS Students Attend AIPAC Policy Conference