Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Report from AIPAC, day two (Bruce)

Here is a report of day two of the AIPAC conference by Bruce:

In an only slightly less dramatic day at the jam packed AIPAC conference, another leading Democrat, soft spoken Harry Reid, broke ranks with President Obama and criticized his party's leader on his feud with Israel Senator Reid stated:

The parties that should lead those negotiations must be the parties at the center of this conflict – and no one else.  The place where negotiating will happen must be the negotiating table – and nowhere else. Those negotiations will not happen – and their terms will not be set – through speeches.  

The crowd at Monday night's Gala dinner again roared approval in another stirring standing ovation. 

Protesters were slightly more bold today, but their paltry numbers were in stark contrast to an AIPAC Gala Dinner that could not fit all of their 10,000 plus delegates in the same room!  A separate room was set up to accomodate the spill over.  An AIPAC representative told the crowd that [paraphrasing] "we have grown so large that no venue in Washington, DC can accomdate us." 

The highlight of the day was Prime Minister Netanyahu, who was warmly greeted by enthusiastic delegates and also interrupted several times by protestors who managed to get inside.  This year, however, the crowd around the protesters wisely stood to block the media's view and chanted "Bibi, Bibi..." to drown out the protesters.  Netanyahu himself noted "do you think they have these protests in Gaza?" 

His polished speech was notable for it's noble, statesmanly character, and his emphasis that Israel is not the central problem in the MidEast.  No trace of the confrontations of the last few days.  He stated:

"Israel's not what’s wrong with the Middle East. Israel is what’s right about the Middle East."  

He plans to hammer home that point tomorrow in his speech to Congress.