Capital Idea

Student involvement in AIPAC is a big part of pro-Israel activity on campus.  Thanks to funding from AIPAC and the Rose Project, a group of 35 students from UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton and Chapman University were among the 2,000 college students who attended the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. in early March.

One of them, UCI senior Alexis Goldring, said that “walking in, it felt like the Grammy Awards for Israel.”  She added, “You could feel the energy, and you could feel that everyone came for a single issue.  People who debate about everything were together and on board.”

Goldring, who is from Fresno, said she went to an AIPAC training seminar after coming back from Birthright Israel.  She was hooked immediately.  “There were not a lot of student activists on campus, so I became an AIPAC student liaison last year and an intern at AIPAC last summer.”

A 5th/6th grade religious school teacher at Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot in Irvine, Goldring spoke at a parlor meeting of Shir Ha-Ma’alot delegates to the AIPAC conference.  She spends most of her free time on AIPAC activities.

Students from all fifty states – “Jewish, non-Jewish, members of the Greek community,” as Goldring put it – were part of AIPAC’s initiative to bring pro-Israel activism to college campuses.  These students had the unique opportunity as part of AIPAC Policy Conference to interact with policy makers and influential leaders.  A Sunday night banquet honored outstanding student activists from campuses across the country.  AIPAC Leadership Development Director Jonathan Kessler hosted “Sunday Night Live,” a comedy flavored awards dinner, featuring a multimedia performance and a speech from Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren, interspersed with AIPAC’s traditional awards given to students who display exceptional advocacy on campus.

At this year’s conference there were a number of Evangelicals, African Americans, Latinos and non-Jewish members of student governments from campuses across the nation.  Altogether, 13,000 delegates made the trip to the capital, including 242 student government presidents from respected universities across the nation.  America’s most devoted pro-Israel activists gathered in one huge building, taking advantage of the opportunity to meet a diverse group of people who share a common goal — a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.

AIPAC lobbied for three causes, the prevention of an Iranian nuclear weapon, the fulfillment of US foreign aid commitments including $211 million in additional funding for Iron Dome and the designation of Israel as a major strategic partner.  California delegates had the opportunity to hear both Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein address a huge room of people on these issues and then went up to the capitol to meet with California representatives.

The theme for the conference was “Shaping Tomorrow Together.”  Conference programming highlighted the ways Americans and Israelis are working together to build a prosperous future in all spheres, from scientific innovation and military marvels, to medical breakthroughs and humanitarian projects.  Delegates saw how the United States and Israel are helping paraplegics walk again with the ReWalk, shooting rockets out of the sky with the Iron Dome developing agricultural projects in Africa and much more.

What will Goldring do when she graduates from UCI?  Not surprisingly, she hopes to work for AIPAC.

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