WASHINGTON – AIPAC has decided to cancel its 2021 annual conference due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the organization said in an email sent to supporters Sunday.
The group, known as the most influential pro-Israel lobby group in the United States, wrote that it has “been forced” to cancel its flagship event for next year. The conference usually attracts as many as 18,000 participants.
The email explained that “given the continued uncertainties created by the COVID-19 pandemic, and without a predictable avenue to safely bring together thousands of pro-Israel Americans, we have been forced to cancel the 2021 AIPAC Policy Conference.”
At this year’s AIPAC conference, which took place in early March in Washington, several people contracted the coronavirus. In the days and weeks after the event, attendees from all parts of the country, from New York to California, tested positive.
The AIPAC conference was the last major gathering of any American-Jewish organization in 2020. In the days and weeks afterward, Jewish institutions around the country, including schools and synagogues, began to shut down as states issued stay at home orders.
Another leading pro-Israel organization, Christians United for Israel, has converted its annual conference into a "virtual summit" that will take place in late June. The CUFI summit will feature speakers from the high ranks of the Israeli government and the Trump administration. It's still unclear whether AIPAC will take a similar step and hold next year's conference virtually.
In its email to supporters, AIPAC also wrote that it “will continue to find new and creative ways over the coming year for us to connect online and in person to advance the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
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In addition, the email said, “The impact of COVID-19 will make this a different and challenging year. But we are confident that the AIPAC community will continue to overcome any obstacle and rise to the occasion.”