By Rob Winder in
"Built to last" is the theme of this year's American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) policy conference and the lobby group has made sure that the US-Israeli relationship has solid foundations.
Thousands flocked to the
influential organisation's annual conference in
Aipac has been accused of leading
a push toward military action against
The Republican message from the three-day conference was clear.
Condoleezza Rice, the
Rice said the
An 'unacceptable risk'
Mitch McConnell, the leader of Republicans in the senate, went even
"Dealing with the Iranian threat will not be easy. Yet one thing is
clear: The old tools of diplomacy are not sufficient," he said.
John McCain, the presumptive
Republican presidential candidate, had also targeted
Critics of George Bush's
administration have charged that it was language similar to this that provided
the backdrop to the build-up to the invasion of
and its supporters are keen to state that they are only pushing for increased
economic sanctions against
"What we are doing now
is not pushing military action, but rather we are wishing and hoping that
"What we are supporting
here is possibly expanding sanctions to pressure
approach is not militaristic at all and Aipac
advocates taking strong political positions [on
But Christian Zionists, who
are among the strongest supporters of
They believe that by
supporting the state of
More than 7,000 people have participated in the conference, Aipac says, with about 5,000 going to lobby US politicians on the final day on Wednesday.
Aipac says the conference will be
attended by more members of the US Congress than almost any other event, a sign
of its influence in the
This year the organisation is attempting to reach beyond its Jewish base,
amid continuing criticism that it is out of touch with the views of the Jewish
community in the
Surveys have repeatedly
shown, for example, that about 70 per cent of US Jews are opposed to the war on
A promotional video shown at
the conference highlighted what it says is the support of the
But the bulwark of Aipac's support still comes from those who believe that
shared values bind the
While no-one is questioning
the nature of the
Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, has once again been accused of corruption and is facing calls to step down, leaving Israelis to face another election.
The Bush era comes to end in January 2009 and Israeli leaders will have a new administration and new policies to deal with.
McCain is a staunch
Conference organisers, concerned about the reaction Obama could receive when he speaks on Wednesday, sent out a
letter urging attendees to react to speeches in a positive manner after Nancy
Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, was booed at last year's
event for calling the war in
But with Obama
on the verge of clinching the