A Teen’s Impression of the AIPAC Policy Conference

Young Judaea teens at AIPAC 2016By Mikayla Carno-Harf

Last week I attended the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, DC as a teen delegate of Young Judaea – one of many teens from various youth movements, including over a dozen from Young Judaea, who were at the Conference. I have always been interested in politics, but taking AP Comparative Government and Politics in high school last semester made me want to learn more about Israel’s government and its policies.

In my class, we learned in depth about six very different countries and their governments. Taking this class changed my view of the world completely. I started to become more and more involved with learning about politics and more aware of what goes on in the world – something that is very eye opening for a student in high school whose view of the world comes mostly from social media. Now that I am taking AP US Government this semester, I am even more intrigued by the relationship between Israel and America. So I wanted to go to the AIPAC Policy Conference because it is such a unique way to hear impactful speeches and meet people who have huge influence on the country.

Hearing that four of the five Presidential candidates would be speaking at AIPAC made me even more motivated to attend. I was very interested to hear all the candidates’ stances on Israel, because one of the four people speaking could be the next President of the United States. I feel that as a Zionist currently living in the US, it is highly important to be aware of the relationship between the two countries. I hoped to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of the relationship and hear from the people who know most about the bond with Israel.

As part of the Young Judaea group, I was able to meet with Young Judaea alumni from many fields who spoke at the Conference. I was also able to share and debate my experiences with the other members of the group through the GroupMe app. Hearing different speakers, and meeting other Jewish teens who have different opinions from mine, made me ask even more questions.

I feel a love for Israel and want to feel free to tell people that I am a Zionist. After attending the AIPAC Conference, I have realized that a lot of what I believe about the politics in Israel comes from the people who were teaching me about Israel, and that there can be different opinions. I have made it a goal of mine to figure out my own opinions, without putting Israel on a pedestal because that would not be realistic.

Mikayla Carno-Harf is an 11th grader at Beachwood High School in Beachwood, Ohio. She is a member of the Young Judaea National Mazkirut (teen leadership board) and President of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple Youth