Aipac’s big show of the morning was, of course, Israeli president Shimon Peres. The president found himself praising his long rival Benjamin Netanyahu, and vouching for Bibi’s intention to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinian.
But some of the more interesting comments were heard behind closed doors, in the sessions that organizers decided to close to the press. Such was one of the main dinner events Sunday night that featured White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and former Israeli foreign minister, now leader of the opposition, Tzipi Livni.
Emanuel went straight to what used to be considered the third rail in U.S.–Israel relations: He linked the peace process with the Iranian nuclear threat. According to press reports, Emanuel said that effective American efforts to deal with Iran hinge on Israel moving forward with the Palestinians.
At the same event, Tzipi Livni gave Aipac activists a different perspective on Israeli policy and, contrary to Netanyahu’s approach, said there is an immediate need to take on Israeli–Palestinian peacemaking.
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, was the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Aipac Forum, Day 2: Rahm Emanuel Touches a Third Rail