Lee Rosenberg, a major Obama donor and the AIPAC president is opening the proceedings.
So far much applause — especially for the record busting attendance of over 10,000.
But no mention, 6 minutes in of this morning headline making speaker — Barack Obama.
AIPAC has notably been silent about President Obama’s speech Thursday, about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s angry response, and their tense Oval Office meeting Friday.
In fact, he announced — to huge applause — Netanyahu’s speech tomorrow night, and has yet to mention Obama except for this allusion:
We will treat everyone as if they are guests in our homes, welcoming them and treating them with respect.
Finally, 9 minutes in:
And in just a few moments, the president of the United States will address us.
Applause, but not like for Bibi (10:19 am EDT)
Now, these line are interesting:
When there is tension we are working to get the parties to lower the temperature…
(Because) When there are differences in puvblic policies between the two countries the enemies … seek to exploit the tension…
When the United States and israel stand together, both countries are stronger
Interesting because when pro-Israel types counsel "no daylight" it’s usually as a (polite) rebuke to the president, especially the sitting president.
The way Rosenberg phrases it, the rebuke is implicitly to both Obama and Netanyahu.
By the way, this year’s slogan is: "Better together." (10:25 am EDT)
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the minority whip, is speaking. He’s a pro-Israel favorite and has a close relationship with AIPAC (and JTA) stalwardt Howard Friedman.
He naturally gets much applause, and delivers a specific shout out to Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), presumably not only because she is the lobby’s best friend in Congress, but also toward her 2012 bid for Nevada’s open U.S. Senate seat.
He also bids hello to U.S. ambassador Michael Oren who gets his second huge round of applause (Rosenberg’s greeting got the first. Rosenberg also greeted U.S. ambassador designate Dan Shapiro, who also got a big round of applause.) (10:30 am EDT)
Hoyer’s first big applause line:
The United States must retain its commitment to the U.S. -Israel memo of understanding and to ensure that israel’s security funding is provided in full.
He already called Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the majority leader, a "partner," and says here that they are committed to funding as it stands ($3 billion in defense assistance annually) — a nod to the joint Democratic-Republican commitment to exempt Israel from Tea Party season budget cuts.
The following two big applause lines are interesting, because they allude to two major differences between Netanyahu and Obama — one active, one potential — and they would rhetorically seem to land Hoyer on the Netanyahu/AIPAC side, but read more closely do not actually differentiate from the Obama posture:
If peace and security is to exist, Israel’s borders must be defensible and must reflect reality on the ground.
A rebuke to Obama’s call to base negotiations on 1967 lines? Not necessarily, because the U.S. position is that a negotiated deal would secure Israel, and the land swaps would reflect the reality. (10:50 EDT)
(apologies, our system is buggy — will get back to Hoyer later)
Lee Rosenberg introduced Obama, ran through the Obama-is-pro-Israel talking points (increased defense asisstance, confronting Iran, rejecting Hamas as a partner) and segued from praise for killing Osama bin Laden, which got a standing ovation, to inrtroducing Obama.
No comment on Obama’s speech thursday. AIPAC is reserving comment for after this speech.
Obama runs through his pro-Israel credentials, with many applause lines, but then gets to the nub: If he wants to get the Internationaly community on board to stop the Palestinian effort to declare independence unitlaterally, he needs a plan when he goes to Europe this evening.
The Palestinian march for recognition, he says, "will continue to gain momentum in the absence of a credible peace process. The basis for negotiations has to hold out the prospect of success.
Obama repeats his line about the 1967 lines, and gets one big boo, but also applause.
Then this line, brings about half the room to its feet with applause, while half the room is resolutely sitting:
By definition, it means that the parties themselves – Israelis and Palestinians – will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967.
He departs to standing applause.