Attending a policy conference with 18,000 participants can be overwhelming or invigorating. For me, it was the latter. Mostly because, the policy sessions I attended at the AIPAC Policy Conference were on a topic of importance for me: Latino-Jewish relations. Listening to leaders like Daniel Hernandez, Lydia Aranda and Daniel Valenzuela, to name a few (and all Arizonans), about the ongoing work they’re doing to advance dialogue, cooperation and understanding between both communities was heartening.
Learning about new alliances and friendships born from educational missions to Israel by Latino leaders, from all sectors (government, corporate and nonprofit) was uplifting.
Time after time, one thing was clear: The trip to Israel changed lives for many as they shared their personal moments of discovery. For some, it was going to the Mount of Beatitudes, Holy Church of the Sepulcher, Western Wall, or Masada. For most, they’ve become leading voices in their respective communities supporting Israel.
Speaking with others like me, who are pro-Israel, was affirming. Our conversations were based on a mutual experience of having visited Israel and the in-depth information gained from serious meetings with officials, kibbutz residents, scholars, doctors and journalists. Here’s something else remarkable about this policy conference, sometimes (and it happened a lot) the person you sat next to, shared an elevator or attended a session with was a member of Congress.
The U.S.-Israel relationship is a top-of-mind issue in the national political landscape.
At this year’s conference, the leading Democratic candidate for president (Hillary Clinton) spoke, as well as the three remaining Republican presidential candidates (Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and Donald Trump). The work of preserving our two nations’ special bond doesn’t fall to a small number of people. It’s a multiple-effect, bipartisan effort led by everyday people, many times one-by-one or 18,000 at a time.
Carlos Galindo-Elvira is the chief development officer of Valle del Sol.