U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference, on March 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The AIPAC Policy Conference Through the Lens of COVID-19

Five reflections on Israel, AIPAC and quarantine.

The end of the AIPAC policy conference intersected with the beginning of the Coronavirus quarantine period, which presents an opportunity to provide reflections on Israel and AIPAC with an overlay of our experiences during the quarantine period.

As soon as we realized the seriousness of the Coronavirus, many people’s first thoughts were, ‘Israel will be the first to create a vaccine.’

We have become accustomed to anticipating that Israel will lead the world with new and sophisticated technology. As a matter of fact, the world has come to rely on Israeli innovations in security, health care and quality of life advancements. Indeed, the statistics demonstrate that Israeli policies in containing the virus have led to a lower rate of occurrence and death as compared to other countries.

As usual, the showcase of Israeli innovation was a highlight of the AIPAC Policy Conference. Some of the features companies and their inventions included:

  • Fibrotex – A new form of camouflage fabric to avoid detection by the enemy.
  • Secret Double Octopus – A form of online security that replaces passwords with biometrics. They reported that 80% of information breaches result from password resets.
  • DouxMatok – A sugar substitute technology that makes you feel like you are tasting more sugar than the amount in the recipe.
  • UBQ – Recycling technology that transforms food, paper plates, garbage, etc. into an environmentally friendly material.
  • Surgical Theater – Adapts Israeli air force navigation technology to do intricate neurological surgery and allows surgeons to simulate and perfect brain surgery to increase the number of lives saved.

During a time when many of us have come to appreciate our home and families like never before, Israel is on the verge of making historic changes to the areas it will officially call home.

During the AIPAC conference, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, discussed the Trump Administration’s “Deal of the Century,” the peace plan that was promoted to Israel and the Palestinian community. Part of this “deal” involves recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over parts of the Jordan valley. Additionally, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence stated that Israeli West Bank communities are not illegal. Furthermore, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that annexing portions of the West bank is not inconsistent with international law. Pompeo reassured Israel that the “U.S. will back any companies doing business in the West Bank.” Currently, Mike Pompeo and his staff are working with Israel to define agreeable borders in the Jordan Valley.

Israel has been recognized for being a first responder in times of crisis, especially when it comes to disadvantaged communities. We have to draw inspiration from Israel and advocate for minority communities that have been especially devastated economically by the Coronavirus quarantine.

The Jews in America have a history of being on the forefront of advocacy for minorities. Senator Cory Booker, one of the few presidential candidates at the time of Policy Conference to make an appearance, recounted how Rabbi Yocham Prince was chosen as one of five speakers to speak at the historic March on Washington in 1963, and that he spoke right before Martin Luther King Jr.  While Senator Booker remains somewhat controversial regarding his voting on Israel, his background and speech-making continue to fascinate many Israel supporters.

While we are all craving the opportunity for more social time with our friends, it is always energizing to hear when other countries befriend and appreciate the state of Israel.

During the General Session, the President of Estonia stated that in her country, the “Jewish community is proud to have a synagogue in Europe that is not guarded by police because it’s not needed.” She added that she was particularly proud, as a woman, to remember that “the first female prime minister in Europe was Golda Meier.”

Stable and strong leadership is critical during times of crisis, and fortunately, there is an agreement to form a government in Israel, averting the need for a fourth election. 

AIPAC hosted a panel on Israel elections during the general session. They reported then that the Likud and right wing coalition were approximately two seats short of  a majority. By now we know that Likud and Blue and White joined together to establish a unity government. Ganz deserves a lot of credit for making this decision despite strong rejection from key members of his party. Leaders are supposed to make these kinds of compromises and difficult choices. 

As we continue to reflect on all of our life views, in light of COVID- 19, we pray for peace in Israel, good health to people all over and an eradication of the Corona diseases. We all hope to be better people as we emerge from this pandemic.

Aviva Luxenberg is a junior at Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School in Livingston, N.J.

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