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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