AIPAC is under fire over its decision to invite Republican front-runner Donald Trump to its annual policy conference in Washington, DC.
While it isn’t unusual for AICPAC to invite presidential candidates to its conferences, Trump is far from a typical candidate. Aside from inciting violence at his rallies, Trump panders to the underbelly of American society with speeches that say, I feel your hate.
Trump used his speech at AIPAC as an excuse to back out of Fox News debate scheduled for March 21 So the fact that Jews or organizing a boycott of that speech is awkward. It is not, however, without cause.
The Anti-Defamation League has long been a critic of Trump’s candidacy, most recently for his refusal to denounce David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan.
“It is imperative for elected leaders and political candidates like Mr. Trump and others in the public eye to disavow haters such as Duke and the other white supremacists who have endorsed his candidacy. By not disavowing their racism and hatred, Trump gives them and their views a degree of legitimacy. Even if it is unintentional on his part, he allows them to feel that they are reaching mainstream America with their message of intolerance.”
The Washington Post reports that 40 Rabbis organized a boycott of Trump’s speech because they are worried he and his ideas will gain legitimacy with the tacit approval of AIPAC.
The Union for Reform Judaism reacted in a statement.
Mr. Trump’s extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric reminds us that our own ancestors’ access to American shores of freedom and promise were once blocked, with deadly consequences. When he speaks hatefully of Mexicans or Muslims, for example, we recall a time when anti-Semitism put Jews at deathly danger, even in the United States. We cannot remain silent, for we have been commanded to “remember the heart of the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
Rob Eshman, the editor-in-chief of the Jewish Journal, said of AIPAC’s invitation to Trump:
“By giving Trump a platform without taking a stand on outright hate speech, AIPAC is helping to fuel this discord. That’s the core moral mistake AIPAC is making.”
Eshman went on to say that Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric should be a red flag for conference organizers since roughly 20 percent of Israeli citizens are Muslim.
A Group called Jews against Trump launched an online petition, opposing Trump’s appearance at the Conference. The petition says, in part:
Trump is a divisive political figure who traffics in hate and who harbors vile racist and anti-Semitic supporters. He has called for the mass-expulsion of immigrants, denying asylum to refugees, and enacting violence against his political opponents. A person so diametrically opposed to Jewish values has no place on a stage championing Jewish causes.
Jewish concerns about Trump’s candidacy are not limited to his hateful rhetoric. Jews are concerned about the anti-Semitism common among Trump surrogates and supporters.
Aside from David Duke’s endorsement, several known Anti-Semites robo-called for Trump on super-Tuesday.
Trump supporters shouting “go back to Auschwitz!” during a shouting match at Trump’s Cleveland rally are impossible to ignore.
And Rev. Mark Burns suggestion that Democratic Candidate Bernie Sanders said of Democratic he “gotta get saved, he gotta meet Jesus,” isn’t fooling anyone. After all, he isn’t the first Trump surrogate to suggest that Jews can be “perfected” if they’d just find Jesus. Ann Coulter said it first.
Trump (and his supporters) can point to the fact that his daughter, Ivanka converted to Orthodox Judaism all he wants. It doesn’t remove the anti-Semitic rhetoric of his surrogates and the rampant anti-Semitism among his supporters. Most importantly, it doesn’t remove the reality that Trump’s hate speech draws too parallels with one of the darkest periods of world history.