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March 5, 2012 5:00 pm

The Algemeiner’s Live AIPAC Blog

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President Obama at AIPAC conference. Photo: wiki commons.

Monday

4:45pm: Snow begins to fall outside the Convention Center as the breakout sessions near a close and the buzz turns to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s arrival.

3:00pm: Security began to tighten as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s arrival at the conference nears closer.  We walked down to make a phone call and spent the next 20 minutes trying to find our way back upstairs.

12:30pm: Pictures and quotes began to come from the meeting between President Obama and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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11:00am: Breakout sessions commence with topics ranging from Egypt’s current political landscape to regional lobby meetups.

9:00am: Senator Joe Lieberman spoke to the crowd in the main hall, focusing on Iran much of the time.

“If you think gas prices are high now in our country, imagine what will happen if Iran could back up its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz with a nuclear weapon,” he said. “This is a future we cannot afford.”

8:00am: Hershey’s bar and chocolate chunk cookie with cold coffee for breakfast.

Day 1

Following the panel discussion, the dinners and parties commenced.  We found our way to the film screening of “Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story”.  If you subscribe to the notion that certain films are “must sees”, this one is a must see.  Towards the end, you could feel the emotion in the room – a spectacular film.

5:00: Bill Kristol joined Mike Murphy (a former adviser to Mitt Romney), Donna Brazile and Paul Begala for a political discussion which focused mainly on the upcoming U.S. Presidential election.  Kristol mentioned that what will most likely occur is a “Romney-Rubio” or “Romney-Ryan” Republican ticket.

“What’s driving all these national polls is the independent votes going all over the place,” Mike Murphy said.

The panelists all seemed to agree that President Obama’s re-election chances are tied to the health of the American economy.

Afternoon: Attendees joined each other throughout the Convention Center, as the smaller individual sessions broke out.  The Algemeiner attended David Horvitz’s session.  Horovitz is the Founding Editor of the new publication “Times of Israel”, and he spoke to those of us who came about the information battle which Israel must continue to fight in order to help shape popular opinion about the Jewish state.

12:50: Breakout sessions commence with topics ranging from the continuation of Israel’s qualitative military edge in the Middle East to the effects of the Arab Spring on Israel’s security.

11:10: President Obama came on stage to address the conference.

10:50: Israel’s President Shimon Peres came out to speak to the attendees, following a moving tribute to his lifelong service to the state of Israel.

10:35am: David Horovitz, Jane Harman and Elizabeth Cheney spent 20 minutes discussing the issues most important to Israel’s security and America’s interest in  defending it.  Iran, Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, and the changing political landscape throughout the Arab world, including a focus on the Muslim Brotherhood were all on the table. Each panelista spoke on all these issues, while also heavily focusing on President Obama’s support of Israel.  Elizabeth Cheney called it a “fact” that President Obama’s support of Israel has been less than any other President in American history, while Jane Harman responded by telling the audience that it’s not in the interest of Israel to make “a political football” out of the issue of its security.

9:05am: People continue to file into the massive Walter E. Washington Convention Center hall, which looks to be the size of two football fields in length.  The line to get into the convention spanned an entire city block, and security is very tight, as President Obama is set to speak within the next two hours or so.

As expected, protestors were waiting for the attendees outside of the Convention Center.  “End the occupation” and “end the apartheid” were hurt through megaphones as people filed in.

Number one on the agenda at this year’s conference: Iran.  Open up the press packet and the first thing you see is Ayatollah Khamenei. “IRANIAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS CAPABILITY:” UNACCEPTABLE”, reads the flyer in the front of the folder.  Right behind it is a letter encouraging all AIPAC supporters to “urge” their Congressman and Senators to support a resolution “affirming that it is a vital interest of the United States to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.”

The crowd here, much like Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is waiting to hear what President Obama has to say about the Islamic Republic’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon.  Clarity is the name of the game.  Where does Washington stand on the threshold for which diplomacy is no longer a viable option in dealing with Iran’s pursuit of a bomb?  On the other side of that coin, where does Jerusalem stand on the issue?  This is of great concern to the White House, and the two leaders will discuss all this face to face, on Monday.

The Algemeiner staff is here, able and ready to provide insight and analysis of 2012 AIPAC.

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