The stage at the 2017 AIPAC conference..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – It’s raining in Washington – sleet actually – but lines stretch out the doors of all the executive office buildings that ring the US Capitol building, its signature feature shrouded in scaffolding erected for the Dome Restoration Project. The emergence of 16,000 AIPAC delegates from the convention center on the other side of the city and their ascend to the Capitol is frustrating the entrance of the staffers who aren’t happy being kept for longer than usual out in the cold drizzle.
The afternoon of lobbying legislators is an annual occurrence at the end of the AIPAC policy conference, but this year the timing is fortuitous for those who agree with the prime minister. Coming on the heels of such a controversial speech, AIPACers are in a especially good position to make US lawmakers feel the weight of how seriously they take Iran, support the prime minister and oppose President Barack Obama.
Press releases flood in: It was good. It was bad. It didn’t have a comprehensive plan. Listen to Israel. Defeat the sanctions bill. Support the sanctions bill.
Chatter on Capitol Hill revolves around what, if any, the White House’s reactions might be.
What does the Iranian Constitution say, wonders one AIPAC delegate walking into the one of the congressional office buildings.
There’s no doubt that even after all the haggling and straining of relationships, if a deal is reached, the ayatollah could still simple dismiss it. What is Obama thinking? Do you think he was watching? Despite this, the mood is optimistic.
Meetings are going well.
The cafeterias are filled to the brim. “AIPACers are swarming congressional offices, echoing Netanyahu’s sentiments,” one delegate from Ohio tells The Jerusalem Post. “It’s democracy in action!” Delegates are meeting with dozens of legislators from both parties, some of whom attended Netanyahu’s speech, some of whom didn’t. Reactions from legislators trickle in. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, for one, was visibly disgusted during the speech, once rolling her eyes and once even throwing up her hands, several people note.
Others chose a more diplomatic tact, calling the remarks “powerful.” If Netanyahu’s goal was to shore up support in Congress against Obama, he made a good show of it, and AIPAC will waste no time in shoring up support for him in the coming hours, days, and weeks until the deadline.