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2016
AIPAC Is Right to Invite Trump

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee has been under fire for inviting presidential candidate Donald Trump to speak at its annual policy conference. Rabbis and others are organizing boycotts, according to the Washington Post:

About 40 rabbis have said that they plan to participate in the protest of Trump’s appearance Monday at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, according to an organizer. The planned demonstration comes as members of the Republican Jewish Coalition, a group of major GOP donors, is expected to debate how to deal with Trump during its annual meeting next month in Las Vegas.

The concerns being expressed by many Jewish leaders go beyond Trump’s controversial pledge to be “neutral” during peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians — and extend to fears of Trump’s style and approach to power.

Meanwhile, others have been discussing more disruptive protests:

Jeffrey Salkin, a Hollywood, Fla., rabbi helping to organize the boycott, said he and other rabbis were alarmed about Trump’s behavior and rhetoric on the campaign trail. “Jewish history teaches that when hatred is unleashed, it takes on a life of its own,” Salkin said.

Salkin said the effort was an attempt to head off “more radical” protest suggestions, including walkouts and jeers, and provide an outlet for those “both nauseated and terrified” by Trump.

An AIPAC spokesman declined to comment on the reaction to Trump’s appearance. Leaders of the organization have said they have a policy of inviting all active presidential candidates to speak to the group to ensure that “our community develops a constructive relationship with whomever wins their respective party nomination and thus could be elected president.”

The Trump candidacy is a disaster both for the Republican Party and the Republic, and we worry about the dangerous anti-Jewish sentiments which have accompanied Trump’s rise. Nevertheless, protesting or disrupting Trump’s speech would be a mistake. A boycott is one thing: if you don’t want to attend an event, by all means stay away. But AIPAC is right: leading presidential candidates should receive an attentive and respectful hearing.

Trump may be unfit to hold public office, but he is wholly fit—as all citizens are—to run for office. Organizations which have traditionally made a point of hearing from all major presidential candidates must not make an exception in Trump’s case.

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  • sacip

    Amen.

  • Ofer Imanuel

    Makes sense

  • Andrew Allison

    A clear majority of Republican voters appear to think that Trump is more fit for office than any of the other candidates, but I guess that’s of no interest to the elitists at TAI. It appears that not being a denizen of the Washington cesspool is a qualification in-and-of-itself in the minds of those voters

    • Kevin

      I’m not sure it’s a “clear majority” – more like a strong plurality at this point.

      • Andrew Allison

        It’s true that he has yet to win an absolute majority but he’s clearly winning the majority (more than anybody else) of votes cast, but what does that split hair have to do with the issue of TAI’s elitism or the widespread disgust with DC?

        • jeburke

          It’s not hair splitting. A majority is a majority, and 35 or 40 percent is not a majority. So far a solid majoriyy of Republican primary voters are opposed to Trump.

          • Anthony

            To be numerically precise jeburke, Trump has not won a majority in any state and was at or below 35% in 12 states.

          • Andrew Allison

            Nope, they just preferred somebody else in the primary. Trump’s argument is that he’s increased turnout and they’ll come out for him in November. It’s no secret that vast majority of voters don’t care who the candidate is, just which party they represent. None of which has anything to do with TAI’s elitist condescension. Just to be clear, I’m appalled by the choices (on both sides) with which a corrupt political establishment has caused us to be faced, but it’s up to the voters to decide who is, and is not, fit for office, not the punditariat.

  • WigWag

    “…we worry about the dangerous anti-Jewish sentiments which have accompanied Trump’s rise.” (Via Meadia)

    What a crock.

    Sheldon Adelson doesn’t seem to concerned about those “anti-Jewish sentiments.” He’s indicated he would be happy to support Trump. See,

    http://www.politico.com/blogs/2016-gop-primary-live-updates-and-results/2016/03/sheldon-adelson-trump-220860

    Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, is an observant Jewish convert and his son-in-law and grandchildren are Jewish. Trump doesn’t have an anti-Semitic bone on his body; half his senior employees are Jewish as are many of his closest friends. A significant number of the club members at Mara Lago are Jewish. A few years back Trump, who is not Jewish was selected as Grand Marshall for the Salute to Israel parade in New York.

    It’s fine for Via Meadia to hate Trump; it’s not fine for the site to lie. Just the other day, the American Interest published an essay by Adam Garfinke suggesting that Trump was channeling Hitler by asking his supporters to pledge their support with a straight-armed salute. Trump has obviously causes the pohbahs at the American Interest to become totally unhinged.

    As for those Rabbis who want to protest Trump’s AIPAC appearance, there’s a Yiddish word that describes them perfectly. The word is verklempt.

    Look it up.

    • ronetc

      Well said, WigWag, thanks.

    • jeburke

      So, some of his best friends are Jewish.

      • WigWag

        Be sarcastic if it floats your boat, but the simple reality is that Trump’s company in New York never would have gotten off the ground if he was anti-Semitic. A large percentage of his business partners are Jewish. For example Stephen Ross, the owner of the “Related Companies” is a well-known Jewish philanthropist. It’s his company that is developing New York City’s far west side. (Ross also owns the Miami Dolphins). Trump is one of his partners on the West Side project and they’ve also teamed up on some development projects in Dade and Broward counties in Florida. There is simply no way that Ross would work with Trump if he was bigoted against Jews.

        The same is true of another New York developer, Harry Lefrak. The Lefrak name is legendary in the world of Jewish philanthropy. Lefrak would never work with Trump on projects if Trump was an anti-Semite.

        Neither Ross nor Lefrak supports Trump for President; they both were big bundlers for Jeb Bush. But if you were to suggest to them that Trump had a problem with Jews they would laugh in your face.

        Now this post didn’t exactly accuse Trump of anti-Semitism. It alluded to “dangerous anti-Semitic sentiments” which have accompanied his rise. This type of innuendo is despicable; it’s actually McCarthyism at its worst.

        But there you have it; Trump opponents are so desperate that they will say anything.

        They have no shame.

        • Jim__L

          WigWag, something puzzles me — do you have any misgivings at all about supporting Trump?

          Do you think there’s anything about Trump that might not be presidential material?

          • WigWag

            Yes, I have plenty of misgivings about Trump. I think he’s an arrogant, egotistical blowhard who could desperately benefit from a dose of humility. I think his recommendation to ban Muslims from visiting the United States goes too far. There are plenty of secular Turks who are nominal Muslims who are dying to leave Erdogan’s Turkey. The idea that these people should be excluded from even visiting the United States strikes me as absurd. I also think Trump is way too impulsive.

            But the choice is Trump or one of his two GOP opponents or his two Democratic opponents. I prefer Trump’s policies to any of the other candidates still in the race. Of these Cruz is the worst. He’s a psychopath who can’t get along with anyone. I don’t like his interventionist foreign policy and I find his domestic priorities repugnant. For example, I think that his approach to reforming entitlements and health care would be disasterous for the middle and working classes. He provided the 60th vote which gave Obama’s TPP fast track status. You asked, so I will be frank, I think Cruz is a piece of garbage.

            Clinton turns my stomach. She’s the anti-Trump in that she is a person of no convictions whatsoever. She will say anything to get elected; she will do anything to get elected. I’m turned off by how she genuflects to every identity group that wallows in their own grievance with all the passion of pigs wallowing in dung. I would vote for her against Cruz, but I would vote for all of the other candidates against her.

            Sanders is a phony. He pretends to support working people but it’s all a crock. Sanders finds working class values repugnant; he doesn’t support the second amendment, he’s turned off by religion. In short, he’s turned of by the cultural values of working class people. This makes him a piece of s$&t in my book. He says he’s for working people; he’s not. He’s for gentry liberals.

            Kasich’s aw shucks shtick turns me off much more than Trump’s imperious style. If I have to listen to him say one more time that his father was a postman, I might vomit. Kasich is wrong about everything. He’s wrong about the common core, he’s wrong about immigration, he’s wrong about trade and he’s wrong about foreign policy. After four years of Kasich in the White House, whatever working class we still have left will find themselves trapped in the underclass.

            Do I love Trump? No. Do I think most of Trump’s policies are right? Yes.

            I don’t like endless wars that we never win. I don’t like uncontrolled immigration that drives down working class wages. I think the common core is a fraud and a disaster. I think it’s time to ramp up the pressure on our allies to pay their fair share. I think it’s time to mix in some nationalism to go with the globalism in our foreign policy cocktail shaker. I think it’s time to stop wasting time on multilateral trade agreements.

            Trump is right about all of this. All of the other candidates are wrong about all of this.

            And, after all, if the grand pohbahs of the American Interest hate Trump as much as they do, he must have something going for him.

          • FriendlyGoat

            So, net, net, your distaste for Mrs. Clinton is mostly personal and you would vote for her over Cruz? Good, let’s nominate him. You may have articulated something useful for the general in the minds of others too.

          • Jim__L

            I’m not convinced Trump’s principles are anything other than his throwing sound bites out there to see what gets the most cheers — from a limited subset of the population. I appreciate that this subset has been virtually disenfranchised by not only our current administration but also our current crop of elites, and I think many of the policies (and in particular, values) popular among this subset deserve to be implemented at the national level, but I’m not at all convinced Trump is the one to do it.

            In fact, I’m convinced that he’s going to practically teleport to the (anti-establishment) center during the General, and leave a great many of his erstwhile supporters in the dust — possibly including you, WigWag. God only knows what he’d actually do if elected. Follow through on his early promises? Follow through on his previously-held D-side convictions? Enact lese majeste by executive order? Use his influence as president to loot the country and enrich his family? Start World War III? Run the country into bankruptcy like he did personally so many times?

            I think that Hillary is very much like Trump in her lack of convictions, but responds to a different subset of the population. And I think that if anything I have seen in the mainstream media about her private server comes close to being true, Hillary needs to be indicted for misuse of classified information. Convicting a cabinet-level pol of a crime that is all too common and very, very destructive (think 9/11 and ALL its “s**t show” aftermath), would be very good “pour encourager les autres”. Past punishments have clearly not been stern enough to bring that into focus. I think you praise her with faint damnation here by leaving out her probable crimes.

            I think we would be best served by the GOP establishment assimilating many of the positions Trump has found are popular, and having a more mainstream candidate run that way. Yes, even Cruz. I should probably look into Cruz a little more carefully — I’m inclined to think he meets the Buckley Rule most effectively, but I’ve heard far more horserace information about him than anything else. If he ticks off the rest of the Senate by not playing ball, I’m not convinced that’s any worse than Trump’s ticking everyone off by being himself — all the flaws you yourself list.

            Thank you for clarifying your positions here. I was getting a little worried that your support for Trump was intemperate.

        • jeburke

          Business is business. During his lifetime, to participate in real estate development in NYC, Trump would havd had no choice but to do business with Jews — Solow, Speyer, Macklowe, Durst, Silverstein, Stern, Lefrak, Ross and Ratner to name a few. So what? Trump never ran for any office before, never had to take any stands on public issues or for candidates except to promote his business, by his own account. Now he is and he does, and has to be judged by what he says and does now.

          • WigWag

            He has to deal with them, but they don’t need to deal with him. If they thought he was an anti-Semite, they wouldn’t have.

    • GS

      more like momsers

    • f1b0nacc1

      Actually ‘putz’ is a better word, but we are quibbling over details.
      As usual, an excellent comment. Trump isn’t my favorite candidate by any means, but many of the ill-informed attacks upon him are going from over the top to outright lies….this serves no one.

  • Kevin

    Such a boycott or even worse protests would be foolish. It could easily provoke Trump into opposing their interests. If he speaks to them he’s much more likely to tailor his appeal and rhetoric in a way that’s aligned with their goals. (Trump tends not to go into the Lion’s Den to confront foes and create new enemies but rather to (often clumsily) try to convince skeptics he speaks to that he shares their values and outlook.) Further, AIPAC depends on the goodwill and pro-Isreali stance of huge swaths of the American electorate, many of whom support Trump. If AIPAC shows disdain for these voters and their sensibilities, it could easily cause people who are broadly supportive of AIPAC’s goals to rethink their support. (And I say this as someone who still hopes Trump loses the primary.)

  • Anthony

    “No foreign country features as prominently in American presidential election campaigns as Israel, and those aspiring to occupy the world’s most powerful political office, whether Republican or Democrat, routinely proclaim their support for that tiny and distant country. Yet, in the current crop of candidates, one has refrained from making any such proclamations: Bernie Sanders. With the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) having just invited all of the presidential candidates to address its annual policy conference next week n Washington D.C. this may be about to change.” http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/bernie-sanders-israel-and-american-jews-by-dov-waxman-2016-03

  • Tom

    I don’t think the rise in anti-Jewish sentiment has been accompanying Trump’s rise. More like the rise of the Farrakhanist left.

    • Anthony

      What is the Faarakhan (a man in his eighties) Left. Something you just made up (the mind will conjure up any fantasy to fit it bigotry.

      • Tom

        Don’t play dumb, Anthony, it doesn’t go well with your exalted vocabulary.

        • Anthony

          Tom, it is a ridiculous statement and I never feign regarding serious matters. Group think nor gratuitous slander has never been productive.

          • Tom

            Let’s be real here Anthony. We both know that the anti-Semitic right is only emboldened, not any stronger in numbers, and that the primary bastions of anti-Semitism these days are leftists claiming to be anti-Zionist–people like Louis Farrakhan, who despite his age is still influential in certain leftist circles.

          • Anthony

            Obviously, you know quite a bit about Minister Farrakhan’s current doings (despite bout of cancer). However, Trumpism may be more likely catalyst for your musings (left or right). Thanks for specificity – Hobbesian appreciation of how fear (hate) can shape human behavior.

          • leoj

            Seems Farrakhan likes what he sees in Trump: http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/198096/louis-farrakhan-admires-donald-trump-because-he-doesnt-want-that-jewish-money

            As WigWag likes to say: “Look it up.”

          • Anthony

            There’s nothing to look up. If you’re concerned about Farrakhan you comb the cobwebs.

          • leoj

            If your point is that anti-semites (to the left and right) are gravitating to Trump, then I guess you’re right. As for Farrakhan being a has-been, no argument there from me. I’m sure you were equally disinterested in the David Duke endorsement and the media-driven charade surrounding his quasi-disavowal?

          • Anthony

            May I suggest instead of focusing on a relic consider this 2016 reality (yesterday): David Duke tells his radio audience that Donald Trump’s campaign could do wonders “rehabilitating Hitler – “take a look” http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/03/17/david-duke-trump-makes-hitler-great-again.html And Thanks.

          • leoj

            There’s nothing to look up. Now, if you’re concerned about David Duke then comb the cobwebs.

          • Anthony

            I didn’t say look up but take a look but if you want to play games waste time elsewhere – you raise the issue since for me it’s off topic. To that end, David Duke, Louis Farrakhan, and leoj prior to your interjection were subjects of no concern (though I wish each good fortune).

          • leoj

            Here’s the point, Anthony: Duke, Farrakhan, and some dude on disqus say something and in itself we are not that troubled because, after all, who are they? You say: subjects of no concern. Me: I see it as a troubling trend. The media: they point at Duke and turn to Trump and say, “mau-mau.” Unfortunately, the plank in their own eye has grown so large that Trump’s supporters can’t help but notice it, and therefore aren’t interested in what the media has to say, and are even buoyed by this mediatic ritual.

            I hope you find this response as gnomic as I find yours. And I hope it finds you well.

          • Anthony

            It’s a good indicator; stay in the fight. Good night!

  • jeburke

    “leading presidential candidates should receive an attentive and respectful hearing.”

    Sorry, I disagree. To deserve a respectful hearing, even leading candidates should themselves be respectful. Trump respects no one. He’s a vulgar, boorish, narcissistic, unprincipled, amoral, thuggish, ignorant fat slob. To be frank, if he were not surrounded by a phalanx of taxpayer-funded security guards, I would personally challenge him to try to punch me in the face. People everywhere have to take a stand against Trump and Trumpism. Those who don’t will one day be ashamed.

    • Jim__L

      At some point, to win a meaningful victory against Trump, we have to be more what we want people to be than he is.

      If TAI figures an attentive and respectful hearing to Trump is part of that, it’s within the bounds of reason.

      I have to admit a great deal of sympathy for your point of view, though.

    • Boritz

      It’s true he has an image and packaging problem. If he would just hire a good PR firm to give him a makeover and make him look more palatable then he would be a garden-variety politician.

  • Pait

    This argument is silly. There’s no principle that AIPAC would violate by not inviting a candidate. It is perfectly reasonable for someone who finds a campaign objectionable to pressure AIPAC not to invite the candidate.

    If AIPAC decides to invite it gains favor with people who like Trump, and loses credibility with those who think that Trump is unfit for office.

    • Anthony

      “Everyone blogs, everyone knows everything. No one knows anything.” Information is (on many levels of IT exchange) consumed to confirm rather than inform opinions and in the internet endless feedback loop of misinformation, every inclination moves to opinion hardened into a truth – a silly argument acquires resonance.

      • Pait

        I suppose you are right. When was the last time we saw someone write “I changed my mind on X because of Y”?

        Occasionally there are opinion writers who say “I think X because of Y. If it turns out that not Y then I will change my mind.” Trouble is, these people who give their arguments and clarify their doubts are few; and they are the ones who turn ou to be right in the 1st try.

        • Anthony

          Agreed. A quote (I don’t recall author just now) to your point is “when the facts change, I change my mind”. Additionally, we lean towards confirmatory data rather than exploratory data, which further undergirds your point.

          • Pait

            Keynes I think.

            We probably could include Keynes in the category of people who would be ready to change their minds if necessary, but didn’t need to change often. It was a different time.

          • Jim__L

            The problem with Keynes…. This is the long run for him — he is now dead.

            We are not dead, and we are predictably suffering for his idiocy.

            Making sure the facts don’t change until after you’re dead and gone is called “kicking the can down the road”, and it’s a good reason for posterity to curse your name.

          • Pait

            Keynes is not alive, and therefore no longer able to change his mind if and when the facts contradict his previous assumptions.

            Neither are you, I fear, though for different reasons.

          • Anthony

            You’re right, thanks; it was John Maynard Keynes – classical economist (among other contributions). A man of action (and ideas). Yes, a different time.

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