WHY IS AIPAC ALLOWING DONALD TRUMP TO SPEAK AT A CONFERENCE?

Mar 21, 2016 by

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

AIPACtrump 0321wrp opt(Photo: Gage Skidmore)

When Donald J. Trump takes the stage at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference, he’ll have lots of ‘splaining to do. In addition to support Trump is receiving from the likes of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and an assortment of white nationalists, Mediaite’s Josh Feldman recently reported on numerous anti-Semitic incidents at Trump campaign rallies including someone making a Nazi salute, a man who shouted at someone to “go to fucking Auschwitz,” and “the pastor at a Trump event who said that Bernie Sanders needs a come-to-Jesus moment.”

If protests erupt when he speaks will he start shouting “Get them out of here, get them out,” or “Go home to your mommy?” Will he urge audience members to “Take them outta here on a stretcher?” Will he tell the crowd he’ll pay their legal fees if anyone clocks a protester?

There’s a good chance a number of rabbis and Jewish organizations will stage some kind of protest – either inside or outside of the event — and there is equally a good chance that Trump will not only profess his great love for Israel, and maybe even say something like “I love Israel and I will help make U.S.-Israeli relations great again,” and “I guarantee it will be the best relations ever.”

Theirs is also a good chance that Trump will attempt to detoxify himself and walk back remarks he’s made about being neutral on the issue of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Union of Reform Judaism recently issued a statement maintaining that Trump’s views are the antithesis of Jewish values, as he has “chosen to take the low road, sowing seeds of hatred and division in our body politic.”

According to the Washington Examiner’s Gabby Morrongiello, “Another group, called ‘Jews Against Trump,’ developed a petition that urges AIPAC to rescind its invitation to the billionaire.” CNN has reported that Rabbis David Paskin and Jesse Olitzky has helped organize more than “300 rabbis, cantors and Jewish voters and professionals who plan to signal their distaste for Trump on Monday.”

“This is not about policies, this is not about parties, this is about one particular person, Donald Trump, who has encouraged and incited violence at his campaign rallies,” Paskin, a rabbi in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., told CNN.

“We are against the hatred, the incitement of hatred, the ugliness that has engulfed this political season,” he added.

According to CNN, “Come Together Against Hate’s plan is to either skip the speech altogether or silently walk out after Trump is introduced, then assemble outside and study Jewish scripture about what Paskin called the ‘opposite’ of Trump — love and decency. We’re hoping thousands of people will join us in that protest,” Paskin said. “We’re going to be providing the antidote, we believe, to what Donald Trump is espousing.”

AIPAC, one of the most powerful of pro-Israel lobbying groups, has also invited the four other remaining 2016 contenders — Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Bernie Sanders I-Vt., former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ohio Gov. John Kasich – to speak.

The Forward’s Simone Zimmerman recently pointed out that, “for the sake of being ‘pro-Israel,’ AIPAC has asked American Jews and our allies to check all our other values at their door.” Zimmerman noted that while “AIPAC takes pride in being a bipartisan organization whose sole mission is to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship. …for years, [its] rhetoric has masked a more complex reality: that AIPAC consistently supports dangerous policies from an extreme right-wing Israeli government, regardless of their moral implications.”

Zimmerman, a leader of IfNotNow, a movement of young American Jews working to end their community’s support for the occupation, argued that Trump’s appearance is “not an anomaly.” “[I]t’s the logical conclusion of the systematic abandonment of values that AIPAC has propelled in our community. The same thinking explains why, over the years, they have hosted Islamophobes and people like Naftali Bennett, who supports settlements and the erosion of Israeli democracy and opposes the two-state solution. The animating ethos is ‘That’s not our problem.’ So it doesn’t matter if Trump is racist and misogynistic. It doesn’t even matter if he holds base anti-Semitic ideas about Jews and our money: AIPAC doesn’t care as long as he will maintain unquestioning U.S. political and economic support for an Israeli government that is leading Israelis and Palestinians down an increasingly destructive path.”

Last week, J Street, a liberal Jewish American advocacy group, declared its opposition to Trump, declaring that “the statements made and actions taken by [him] are so deeply at odds with our values and our view of American interests in the Middle East, that we feel compelled to express our adamant opposition to his candidacy.”

The statement pointed out Trump’s “outrageous and alarming attacks on immigrants, Hispanics, women and other groups as well as his call for a total ban on Muslims entering the United States,” saying it “runs diametrically counter to the values J Street espouses.”

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