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Israel lobby's summit included 'adoration for Cheney'

Mike Sheehan, Raw Story

March 16, 2007

America's powerful Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), held a recent summit that featured moments described by one writer as "surreal," "energized" and even "circuslike."

"AIPAC's three-day summit included fiery evangelical oratory, adoration for Dick Cheney -- and new plans for going after Iran," reports Gregory Levey for Salon.

"Amid an energized and at times almost circuslike atmosphere," Levey writes, "just about everyone in attendance shared two main preoccupations: the 2008 U.S. presidential election and confronting Iran.

The "evangelical Christian community" made a strong showing at the summit, says Levey. "For those feeling apocalyptic about the turmoil in the Middle East," he remarks, "pastor John Hagee was there to greet them. Of the many prominent speakers at the conference, Hagee got one of the most enthusiastic receptions."

According to Levey, Hagee proclaimed that "the sleeping giant of Christian Zionism has awoken!" to a mostly Jewish, "electrified" crowd that "roared in support, pounding on the tables." Hagee, Levey continues, described the United Nations as a "political brothel, and asserted that Israel must never give up land."

AIPAC, writes Levey, "has been highly successful in building strong relationships with both U.S. political parties." He notes that the 2007 conference featured a Who's Who of Americans: "Everyone from Vice President Dick Cheney to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (and other 2008 presidential contenders), as well as former CIA director James Woolsey. ... Leaders from Congress were there, as were numerous officials from the State Department and White House."

Levey notes that a bipartisan spirit permeated the conference. "Even if Democrats and Republicans bicker on every other issue," he writes, "AIPAC leaders seemed constantly eager to stress that one thing on which the parties can come together is unswerving devotion to Israel." To that end, both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) made appearances.

Pelosi was booed by some in attendance after she criticized the Bush troop 'surge' plan, reports Levey, but Boehner received a standing ovation upon saying, "Who does not believe that failure in Iraq is not a direct threat to the state of Israel? The consequences of failure in Iraq are so ominous for the United States you can't even begin to think about it."

Cheney's presence yielded a rousing, warm reaction, says Levey. "When Cheney first appeared on the stage on Monday morning," he writes, "the crowd immediately rose to its feet and filled the room with loud applause, which continued intermittently through his predictably hawkish speech."

"It seemed a remarkable contrast to the currently dismal public opinion polls regarding Bush and Cheney," concludes Levy, who quoted a nearby AIPAC delegate among the cheering throng as saying, "This has got to be the last crowd that still greets him this way."

Excerpts from the exclusive Salon article, available at this link, follow...

#

When the thousands of lobbyists descended on Capitol Hill, they were greeted by nearly every U.S. senator and more than half the members of the House of Representatives -- approximately 500 meetings were held between AIPAC representatives and members of Congress on Tuesday alone. In addition to pushing for the sanctions plan, the goal was to showcase the strength of AIPAC and establish more ties for future communication and lobbying.

The AIPAC activists were aided in their mission by some members of Congress themselves, who advised them how to reach out to their colleagues. "Our commitment to Israel defines us as a nation," said Republican Norm Coleman of Minnesota, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, adding that the AIPAC lobbyists "help make sure that we don't forget."

...

Following the dinner, Clinton and Obama held competing dessert receptions in the conference center -- in rooms about 25 yards apart -- both eager to highlight their pro-Israel credentials. Debates ensued over which one to attend. "I can't decide," one AIPAC delegate said. "I'd really like to see Obama in person, but Hillary is better for Israel."


:: Article nr. 31425 sent on 16-mar-2007 19:08 ECT

www.uruknet.info?p=31425

Link: rawstory.com/news/2007/Israel_lobbys_summit_included_adoration_for_0316.html



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