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The Fern Sidman Commentaries:

As the three day 2007 AIPAC policy conference held in Washington, DC came to a close yesterday, the nationís most powerful Israeli lobby sent a clear message to Washington, Iran and the world. "Tighten the screws on Iran" was the call of the day, as the Iranian nuclear buildup dominated the agenda of the 5500 member conference.

AIPAC activists from around the country engaged in some 500 meetings with members of Congress of their staffs and pushed for the passage of new legislation tightening US sanctions on Iran in an effort to thwart its nuclear program. The bill, sponsored by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos of California, would expand the types of investment subject to sanctions, eliminate the presidentís ability to waive sanctions for foreign oil companies and end all imports from Iran, among other measures.

AIPAC members also sought support for two letters - one circulating among senators to be sent to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the other drafted by representatives for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana - holding a firm line against the new Palestinian unity government. Both letters call for the continued suspension of aid to the Palestinian Authority so long as the planned Hamas-Fatah government fails to adhere to the three international demands of recognizing Israel, renouncing violence and accepting previous agreements.

Vice President Dick Cheney addressed the AIPAC conference in the cavernous halls of the Washington Convention Center and called on American Jewish support for a continued American military presence in Iraq. He intimated that calls on Washington to take an aggressive lead in challenging the bellicose rhetoric directed at Israel by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the buildup of his nuclear arsenal could only be implemented if the pro-Israel lobby threw their complete support behind the Bush administrationís policy of remaining militarily engaged in Iraq.

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu also addressed the conference and called on American companies to divest from Iranian interests. He also warned that Ahmadinejad was preparing the ground for a second genocide of the Jewish people. According to a report by Arutz Sheva news service of 3/13/07, Netanyahu said, "The key is genocide. Do we want to mobilize the world against Iran? The answer is yes, just as we should have mobilized the world against Hitler in the previous century."

"We donít need global action," Netanyahu explained to his audience. "It is enough that American money be pulled out of companies doing business with Iran for these companies to start folding their operations. The sanctions could be successful in the short term. Iran needs new investment desperately. Drilling of oil wells there is on a downward curve. American disinvestment from companies active in Iran could bring down."

Other Israeli and American official addressed the conference as well and spoke of the Iranian threat, yet the real shining star of AIPAC 2007, was Baptist Evangelical Pastor John Hagee who brought the house down in his fire and brimstone appeal for support for Israel. During the course of his speech, Pastor Hagee received a number of standing ovations as he issued a clear and personal warning to President Ahmadinejad not to threaten America or Israel. He told the audience that 50 million Christian Zionists are stalwart supporters of Israel and would stand behind her.

Pastor Hagee was one of the few speakers that actually mentioned G-d and the Bible in his speech and draw Biblical parallels to those who sought to annihilate the Jewish people, but who in the end were destroyed by the hand of G-d. Speaking of Pharaoh in Egypt he said that he "became fish food in the Red Sea" when he attempted to pursue the Jews who had just been liberated from Egypt after hundreds of years of bondage. Pastor Hagee also made reference to Haman in Persia which he said was modern day Iran and how his nefarious plot to have Mordechai hanged on the gallows turned right back around at him and it was Haman who in the end would be hanged. He warned all those enemies of the Jewish people to think twice before attempting to obliterate G-dís chosen people.

Despite the fact that Pastor Hageeís speech was met with an enthusiastic reception by the AIPAC membership, when the Pastor said that there is "the Torah way and then the wrong way", that remark only drew a mild and at best luke warm response from the audience. It appears that Pastor Hagee was one of the few people at the conference that actually embraced the teachings of the Torah. He then led the audience in a rousing chant of "Israel Lives" and promised the AIPAC members that Israel and the Jewish people would never be alone.

It is clear that Pastor Hagee was the shining star at the AIPAC convention. This is a man who is not afraid to intone the name of G-d, to boldly and courageously call the enemies of the Jewish people evil perpetrators. This is a man who embraces G-dís word and reveres the Torah. The AIPAC membership and the Jewish people can learn a most valuable and important lesson from Pastor Hagee.

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