By COLlive reporter
While Washington, D.C., is increasingly consumed with bickering between Democrats and Republicans, the U.S.-Israel relationship remains the one issue that transcends the partisan divide.
In a display of this bipartisan spirit, more than half of Congress attended tonight’s Gala Banquet, which filled a room large enough to fit the Washington Monument on its side.
The major speakers were Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Senate Majority Leader John Boehner.
In his speech Prime Minister Netanyahu reassured the public that Israel remains the United States’ ‘indespensible ally’, despite his rejection of U.S. President Obama’s call for a peace deal based on 1967 borders last week.
He also said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has raged for nearly a century because the Palestinians “refuse to end it. They refuse to accept the Jewish state.” Netanyahu said that Israel wants peace, “because we know the pain of terror and we know the agony of war.”
Representatives from more than 65 countries—including ambassadors from China, South Africa, Mexico, Turkey and the Netherlands—were at the dinner.
Senators, members of Congress, administration officials, foreign diplomats and other VIPs at the banquets had their names read during the Roll Call, a lively Policy Conference tradition that has been a crowd favorite for many years.
AIPAC National Board members Amy Friedkin and Michael Tuchin joined AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr for the Roll Call.
The crowd of 10,000 people dined in two separate ballrooms.
A group of Lubavitchers were present at the gala, chief among them Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Director of American Friends of Lubavitch and Chabad’s Shliach in Washington, DC.
From Brooklyn came Lubavitch.com Editor Baila Olidort; Lubavitch.com media relations Yaacov Behrman; Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz of Machne Israel Fund; Chabad.org media relations Motti Seligson; Algemeiner Newspaper Director Dovid Efune; Getzy Markowitz.
Shluchim present were Rabbi Ruvi New of East Boca Raton, FL; Rabbi Aaron Margolin of Norfolk, VA; Rabbi Berel Wolvovsky of Silver Spring, MD; Rabbi Yossi Lipsker and Rabbi Shmaya Friedman of Swampscott, MA; Rabbi Zev Katz of Miami Beach, FL.
Also there were Shluchim: Rabbi Elazar Green of Lancaster, PA; Rabbi Moshe Gray of Dartmouth College in MA; Rabbi Menachem Margolin of Brussels, Belgium; Rabbi Isser New of Atlanta, GA; Rabbi Yehudah Leib Kantor of Westport, CT; Rabbi Laibel Berkowitz of Huntsville, AL.
Prior to the Gala Banquet, delegates attended lobbying workshops, where they heard from AIPAC’s top experts how to make the case for Israel on their visit to Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
VIDEO: Netanyahu’s speech