The American Jewish pro-Israel lobbying group, AIPAC, cancelled its 2022 annual policy conference months in advance due to “uncertainty around the continued spread of COVID.”
This would make it the second year in a row that the conference, which has drawn in recent years 18,000 participants, will not take place due to the pandemic.
Planning a three-day event for that many people “requires more than a year of advance planning, including irrevocable contracts with the Convention Center, hotels, catering and many other vendors who help bring the conference to life,” AIPAC President Betsy Berns Korn said in a letter to participants.
AIPAC did hold its annual conference in early March of 2020 – with then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and then-Vice President Mike Pence as speakers – just as the coronavirus was emerging, but before lockdowns were imposed and before the virus was recognized as a pandemic.
Here is the full text of the statement from AIPAC President Betsy Berns Korn:
We hoped that by now we would have had greater certainty, more clarity, and the definitive answers needed to determine whether we can safely host a Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. in 2022.
The health and safety of our conference delegates is our top priority each year. Unfortunately, there are still too many questions that remain unanswered to move forward responsibly, and thus we have made the decision to cancel the 2022 AIPAC Policy Conference.
This decision may seem surprising as we appear to be entering a post-pandemic world. However, with uncertainty around the continued spread of COVID, we still have a fragile and uncertain path back to normal travel and mass gatherings.
Building a safe “Policy Conference City” for 18,000 participants over three days requires more than a year of advance planning, including irrevocable contracts with the Convention Center, hotels, catering and many other vendors who help bring the conference to life.
We are now at the stage of planning that requires us to make those financial commitments. After considerable review, we feel strongly that signing contracts at a time of such continued uncertainty about the safety of the conference and our delegates would be an irresponsible use of the resources you entrust us to use wisely.
While we will not host a Policy Conference in 2022, our vital and sacred work of strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship continues.
Last year, amid the most unpredictable of environments, we demonstrated that together we could still successfully advance our mission.
This year, we will demonstrate even greater ingenuity and will expand upon the innovations we introduced over the past year to advance our mission and strengthen our community.
Our lobbying for pro-Israel legislation will be as robust as in previous years – and even more so – with new and creative ways to engage members of Congress and their staff.
We will be introducing new opportunities to build our movement and engage personally with each other. And we plan to host in-person programs when we determine that it is safe to do so.
Together, with your continued support, we will devote ourselves to achieving the same outcomes that the conference typically generates.
Thank you for your steadfast commitment to this organization and our shared mission. We will continue to go from strength to strength.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.