Last night was “the big night” in terms of speakers during the General Session, as Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, and all three Republican presidential candidates took the stage. Security was outrageous and the atmosphere was electric as 18,700 AIPAC delegates jammed the Verizon Center.
To be honest, all three presidential candidates knew their audience very well and said all the right things in talking to a pro-Israel group. Each pledged to dismantle the Iran nuclear deal, reimpose sanctions on Iran for violating agreements, move the US embassy back to Jerusalem, and be a partner with Israel. Each outlined Israel’s and America’s democratic similarities, and emphasized that Israel has a right to defend herself.
Differences, really, were in presentation. John Kasich led off and, true to his low-key style, he focused on what his plan would be, rather than attacking other candidates. I heard more from Kasich regarding Israel tonight than I ever have, and I liked what I heard in that regard. Though I still have reservations regarding his positions on moral issues and handling of immigration, I have to say I was more impressed with him than I have been before. He would definitely be an infinitely better choice than what we have now, and a significantly better choice than anyone on the liberal left.
Following a fairly politically neutral, but Israel-backing speech by Paul Ryan, Donald Trump took the stage with great fanfare. There are about 4000 students among the delegates at AIPAC this year, and the entry of Trump was more like the start of a concert! However, his speech was less impressive. Sure, he stuck to the pertinent points and made the appropriate promises (in ways that as only Trump can!) to a group of Israel-backers, but his sarcasm and lack of substance continues to cause me concern. His messages seems always to be “tickling of the ears” of whatever group he happens to be addressing. Very little boisterous, Mr Tough Guy rhetoric, except on a couple occasions. As usual, he talked much about his prowess as a “deal-maker,” emphasizing the need to compromise to make deals. That didn’t play well for a group that believes compromise with Israel’s security is not a good thing. Overall, he had plenty of support, but far less than his overall poll numbers indicate in the general population.
Ted Cruz finished off the evening. He is not as polished a speaker as he is a debater, so other than a couple jabs regarding the failure of the current administration, and his pledge to make the US-Israeli partnership stronger than it has ever been, his was an unremarkable speech. However, as all the others did, he brought the crowd to its feet when he proclaimed Jerusalem to be the one eternal capital of the Jewish state.
So, no surprises last night…just an opportunity to see each candidate make his pitch for Israel. With that thought in mind, though, I am reminded that today is primary election day in my home state of Arizona. Arizona friends, if you have not voted early (as I have), PLEASE go to the polls today and vote your values. This is, indeed, a crucial election and your vote matters.
Here in Washington DC, we’ll finish off the AIPAC Policy Conference later this morning with an address from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I look forward to that, but more importantly, I look forward to “being a voice” for those of you who stand strong with Israel! Our Arizona Christian delegation will make the short trip to Capitol Hill tomorrow where we will meet with:
- Senator Jeff Flake at 11:00am (8:00am in Arizona)
- Senator John McCain at 11:30am (8:30am in Arizona)
- Representative David Schweikert at 12:30pm (9:30am in Arizona)
(All Arizonans are represented by both Senators, but only one Representative. Thus, each Arizona delegate will lobby with the group represented by the appropriate Representative. Also, you can see our lobbying agenda here.)
Again, no matter what state you live in, I urge you to pray. Every Senator and every Representative will host AIPAC delegates today, so you have a voice speaking for you on Capitol Hill! For the many followers from different countries, will you please pray for all of us in general? The Bible says From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. (Luke 12:48). Because God entrusted so much to the United States and we have failed in so many ways, we need prayers of Christians everywhere. As a believer, I long to see America steward God’s gift to us, and our nation must return to Biblical principles in order to do that. Will you pray?