Life or death at AIPAC's policy conference

Life or death at AIPAC's policy conference
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In the days since the annual AIPAC policy conference there has been a flurry of media reports related to several attendees who have tested positive for COVID-19, known more commonly as novel coronavirus. Questions of life and death were indeed taking place at AIPAC, but not in the manner that the headlines would lead the country to believe.  

The far more insidious threat — one that could literally doom millions — would be the end of widespread, bipartisan support for the U.S.-Israel alliance.

The concerted effort to politicize the relationship between America and its greatest ally in the Middle East, Israel, poses a significant risk to millions of people who believe in the tenets of democracy.

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At the AIPAC conference, participants were warned by AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr about radical extremists who are not just poisoning the rhetoric of the day, but actively working to undermine party policies toward Israel.

This is a sad reflection of the erosion of the current state of politics, but the inevitable politicization of this issue should not be met with silence or acceptance. For decades, one of the most fundamental topics upon which Democrats and Republicans could agree, even when they found themselves disagreeing nearly every other issue, was the importance of fostering a strong relationship between America and Israel.

This relationship was always considered sacrosanct and more important than petty politics. It must remain so, since this is an issue that directly affects America’s national security. The leadership, as well as the rank and file members within the Republican and Democratic parties should be committed to protecting the security of the American people. This must always be their first priority.

Part of America’s national security strategy means working with our allies and countering those who wish to do us harm. History has shown that all too often, Israel’s enemies are also America’s enemies. And that is precisely the reason why lives are presently at stake.

The same extremist forces that seek to destroy Israel are the same ones that attacked the United States of America on Sept. 11. Allowing one or both of our two parties to politicize the U.S.-Israel relationship means running the danger of emboldening and empowering America’s and Israel’s common enemies.

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In order to prevail against anti-Western, radical Islamist extremists, we must stand united and ensure that neither party has a monopoly on support for Israel. Scoring political points at the expense of the U.S.-Israel relationship is counterproductive and ultimately will erode the ability to safeguard the American people.

Democrats and Republicans in Congress owe it to their constituents to avoid this trap.

During the gathering’s opening session, Kohr spoke passionately and eloquently to 18,000 AIPAC conference attendees about the need to stand in opposition to those who seek to unravel the bonds that have bound the U.S. and Israel in solidarity since the Jewish State was established in 1948.

AIPAC’s chief executive outlined precisely why America and Israel cannot afford to have this important issue exploited and politicized — and called to vigorously oppose those who strive to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Israel.

His message is the correct one: Our leaders must not allow bipartisan support of the U.S.-Israel alliance to diminish. After all, Israel is not just a friend of the United States, but a reflection of our values and a bulwark against bad actors in one of the most unstable and dangerous regions of the world.

America and Israel believe in the same democratic rights and are guided by the same moral principles and shared values. Through its alliance with Israel, the United States is better equipped and more strategically positioned to counter dangerous forces in the Middle East that seek to demonize America, assail our security and undermine our global leadership.

Now more than ever, given tumultuous global current events and the upcoming U.S. presidential election, the need for bipartisan American support for Israel is critical.

Evan Nierman is Founder and CEO of Red Banyan (@redbanyan), an international public relations and crisis management firm.