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AIPAC Conference Begins Softly

A new president, a hard push for hard sanctions

Marc Tracy
March 22, 2010
The opening plenary yesterday.(Courtesy AIPAC)
The opening plenary yesterday.(Courtesy AIPAC)

This year’s annual AIPAC Policy Conference, which kicked off yesterday in Washington, D.C., promises to be one of the most watched and important ones ever. Not only does it have the highest attendance (more than 7500 people will attend), but it follows upon probably the greatest crisis in U.S.-Israel relations—the very thing AIPAC is dedicated to cultivating—in over three decades. Because it’s so important, and because it lies squarely within what we hope is our wheelhouse—Israel’s impact on U.S. politics—we will have plenty of coverage of the goings-on here at The Scroll, including dispatches from Senior Writer Allison Hoffman, who is there. And we will have even more coverage of it on our Twitter.

For now, here’s what people have been saying about the conference, and what happened on the first day.

• Secretary of State Clinton reassured the crowd that the administration has a “rock solid” commitment to Israel and its security. She also noted, “It is our responsibility to give credit when it is due and to tell the truth when it is needed.” [AP/WP]

• In his remarks, new AIPAC President Lee Rosenberg declared, “allies should work out their differences privately.” [Capital J]

• A profile of “Rosy,” the new president, who made his bones in the jazz recording industry and was a major Obama campaign fundraiser. [Arutz Sheva]

• The opening ceremonies featured zero mention of the recent spat, instead focusing on celebrating Israeli technological innovation and highlighting the Iranian threat. Hoffman emails in to report that “the images were all about friendship,” with pictures of Obama with Prime Minister Netanyahu and with President Shimon Peres. [Forward]

• AIPAC will lobby Congress for “crippling sanctions” targeting Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (which the administration doesn’t necessarily want). [Ben Smith]

• Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate, was eagerly making the rounds. [Capital J]

• A panel dicussed the proximity talks and the promise of future direct negotations. [Capital J]

• Jeffrey Goldberg accuses AIPAC of “presenting an oversimplified vision of the Middle East.” []

Below: Rosenberg speaks.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.

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