The Baylor Democrats and Baylor College Republicans attended the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Convention in late March and experienced sessions geared toward bipartisanship and an effort to stand by Israel.
Each session was led by a member of both political parties in order to blur party lines, something that is very important to Rachael Oury, president of the Baylor College Republicans.
“We definitely want to advocate toward bipartisanship and the strength that comes from working together and blurring party lines for one very important purpose,” Oury said. “In this case, it was Israel, but that is not to say there aren’t more bipartisan issues that can be furthered with this push.”
Baylor Democrat president and AIPAC’s campus liaison, Medfor Ore., senior Micah Furlong said he believes that having both parties present is a necessity in situations abroad and at home.
“It’s very important to me that we have both people from both sides of the aisle coming together,” Furlong said. “I think the only way towards peace is if both parts are able to live peacefully and that requires a two state solution.”
The two Baylor representatives attended different sessions and both felt that the convention was a learning experience.
“By going to these sessions and by zeroing in on the different challenges that Israel faces and the U.S. faces with Israel, we were able to sort of formulate what we wanted to lobby for in order to help Israel,” Oury said. “It truly was about educating ourselves so that we can educate others.”
In an effort to educate students, the two plan to continue to work together on Israeli issues.
“We are hoping to continue to work together in a bipartisan fashion to insure that the Pro-Israel community is strong and that students understand why they need to support Israel, not just that they need to,” Furlong said.
Oury feels that issues like these effects the student body more than students think, and she hopes to reach more students about important issues.
“I think it’s an issue that may go unnoticed regularly; our relationship with Israel and how much our country is impacted by these relations,” Oury said. “It’s something that the student body should become more aware of. By educating a few, hopefully we can educate more.”
Due to their involvement in the conference, the leaders feel more experienced in political relations, rather than political debates.
“They do train you in a lot of ways — on how to communicate and to realize that we don’t need to be having an argument for this sort of thing, we need to be having a conversation,” Furlong said.
Student involvement in Israeli issues has a chance to grow through AIPAC, according to Furlong, who is invited to conventions regularly and is given spaces for more representatives.
The parties are hosting a bipartisan dance this Thursday with the Swing Dance Society, where candidates for student body positions will be speaking to the group. Both organizations also hold regular meetings to discuss political issues and stances.