Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


AIPAC University

Why the most important people at the policy conference might be the students

Print Email

When Joe Biden spoke earlier today at the AIPAC policy conference, he made a few peculiar references about his age—he threw out a “for those of you old enough to know who I am” at the beginning and a follow-up “Yeah, I’m that old,” later on.

It probably had something to do with the 2,000 college students in attendance, to whom Biden stopped mid-speech to give a shout-out. They, not the long-time donors or even the exclusive Minyan members, are the ones everyone seems to be excited about during this conference. The best place to find this in-demand demographic? Downstairs in the cavernous AIPAC Village during a break in programming.

Akshay Kapoor, student government president at University of Massachusetts Amherst, dug into a kosher sandwich at a table near the food trucks, where he was sitting with student government presidents from Oral Roberts University and Brigham Young University. This was their first-ever AIPAC policy conference, and they were enjoying it so far. UMass Amherst, Kapoor told me, had sent a student council president to the conference for the past four years.

Representatives from AIPAC had reached out to them through their respective universities, offering them the opportunity to learn, network, and shmooze—on a free trip to D.C. Not surprisingly, 242 council members from colleges across the country RSVP’d yes. They got paired with random roommates from other schools, and at the conference are known collectively as the Geller Student Government Association Presidents. (They met with AIPAC National Council member Marty Geller, the program sponsor, at an event Saturday evening.)

The signs posted throughout the conference hall advertising the notion that you’re ‘never too young’ to get involved with AIPAC aren’t just lip service. The millennials are being courted.

Hillel of Greater Philadelphia had a certain number of spots at the conference which were given to students from the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and Drexel. The Drexel Hillel sent two representatives, along with a campus Hillel staff member.

“I had no idea about AIPAC before I got here,” Lyssia Katan, a Drexel freshman, told me. “Now I’m hooked.” She’s now considering the Hasbara fellowship program in Israel.

There are 800 Jewish undergraduates enrolled at the College of Charleston (out of a student body of 10,000), and four of them are at the policy conference.

“You make so many friends here, and those relationships last,” Nicole Lubel, who was College of Charleston’s only campus delegate at last year’s policy conference, told me during a lunch break. This year she’s joined by fellow Jewish Student Union member Elana Malkin, Seth Burrell, and student council president Erica Arbetter (whose D.C. roommate is from Alaska Pacific University).

“You have students from such different walks of life getting interested and invested in maintaining the American-Israel relationship,” Burrell, who is Jewish, told me. “It’s reassuring.”

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

Shame AIPAC ignores graduate students.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

AIPAC University

Why the most important people at the policy conference might be the students

More on Tablet:

11 Non-Jewish Celebrities—and 2 Jewish Ones—Show Off Their Hebrew Tattoos

By Marjorie Ingall — You don’t have to be Jewish to sport Hebrew ink. But some of these stars should have thought twice before going under the needle.