Several Jewish groups have announced plans to boycott and protest Trump’s participation at the AIPAC conference in Washington on Monday, indicating a deep schism in the Jewish community over the next presidential election.
AIPAC, The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is a pro-Israel lobbying group and with more than 100,000 members, it is one of the most powerful lobbying groups in America, making it an important stop in any presidential campaign. As they do during every election, AIPAC invited all the presidential candidates to speak at this year’s convention. This year, the list included Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich.
Trump, the front-runner for the Republican nomination, is scheduled to speak Monday night and several Jewish groups have announced their plans to boycott and protest his speech.
The Union for Reform Judaism, representing the largest Jewish denomination in America, does not endorse candidates as a rule since they are a religious organization. Nonetheless, they released a statement on their website, slamming Trump, comparing his rhetoric to anti-Semitism.
“His campaign has been replete with naked appeals to bigotry, especially against Hispanics and Muslims. Previous comments he has made – and not disavowed – have been offensive to women, people of color, and other groups. In recent days, increasingly, he appears to have gone out of his way to encourage violence at his campaign events.”
The violence referred to occurred at a recent Trump rally in Chicago in which several hundred protesters, organized by pro-Sanders MoveOn.org, arrived and violence ensued. Two police officers were injured and five people were arrested. Trump cancelled the rally as a result.
Rabbi David Paskin and Rabbi Jesse Olitzky organized a group called “Come Together Against Hate”. This is meant as a rejoinder to the theme of the of the AIPAC conference; Come Together. On their website, they call on “Rabbis, Cantors, Jewish professionals, and members of the Jewish community to repudiate the ugliness that Mr. Trump espouses” and to “shine a moral light on the darkness that has enveloped Mr. Trump’s campaign”.
Ameinu, a progressive Zionist organization whose stated goal is to seek social and economic justice in Israel and the United States”, issued a statement, calling upon the conference member to “raise a collective voice of Jewish outrage and make an unequivocal denunciation of Donald Trump’s bigotry.”
J Street, an extreme left-wing Jewish group that advocates the creation of a Palestinian state inside the borders of Israel, issued a statement to the press, claiming Trump is “unfit to be President of the United States”.
“Trump and his campaign, driven by racism and hate, are beyond the bounds of acceptability for the vast majority of Jewish Americans.”
Even if Trump is able to cope with the outside protesters, a non-committal platform on Israel will not win any followers from the AIPAC hosts. He has wavered on this in the past, in stark contrast to the other GOP candidates who express strong commitment to Israel.
Trump does have a personal interest in the Jewish community. His daughter, Ivanka, is an observant Jew and married to Jared Kushner.