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The National Summit was held March 7, 2014 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. It was the most high profile, public response and critique to-date of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Israel’s foremost US Lobby, whose mission is to quote “urge(s) all members of Congress to support Israel through foreign aid, government partnerships, (and) joint anti-terrorism efforts.”
Just days earlier, from March 1st through 3rd, AIPAC had held its annual policy conference in the nation’s capital, celebrating the US Special Relationship with Israel. According to AIPAC’s web site more than half of the Senate, a third of the House of Representatives and countless Israeli and American policymakers were among the 14,000 attendees.
In face of that long established relationship granted by the US to no other country, the organizers of the “The National Summit to Reassess the U.S.-Israel ‘Special Relationship’” hoped to open the door to an informed and inclusive national discussion about what they consider the pitfalls of this “special relationship” with Israel. They said that quote “it is long past time for this critical national conversation to occur and for the American public to have a voice in U.S. foreign policies.” (Stated in the May 14 volume of the Washington Report.)
The National Summit was the result of a full year of preparation by staff of the magazine, Washington Report, in cooperation with the Institute for Research:Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep), the Council for the National Interest (CNI) and If Americans Knew (IAK).
Speakers included some long term former intelligence officers, among them Phil Giraldi, Paul Pillar and Ray McGovern. "Spike" Bowman, a specialist in national security affairs, gave intriguing background on the Jonathan Pollard spy affair. Former elected representatives included Cynthia McKinney, speaking via video, and Paul Findley from Illinois; and the panel of journalists and academics included Gareth Porter, John Quigley and Stephen Walt, co-author with John J. Mearsheimer of their seminal book: The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.
Stephen Walt was the keynote speaker at the National Summit and he spoke on: The "special relationship" and what has changed since publication of book, The Israel Lobby. Walt is Professor of International Affairs at Harvard, Kennedy School of Government. He previously taught at Princeton University and the University of Chicago. He has served as a consultant for the Institute of Defense Analyses, the Center for Naval Analyses, and the National Defense University. He is the co-author, with John J. Mearsheimer of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.