Reform Leader Rick Jacobs: Trump Is a Person Who Spread 'Hate' and 'Bigotry'

Hours before planned walkout on Trump’s speech at AIPAC, URJ president says movement is trying to arrange direct meeting with him.

Chemi Shalev
Chemi Shalev
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Reform movement President Rabbi Rick Jacobs addresses the group’s Biennial in Orlando, Florida, November 4, 2015.
Reform movement President Rabbi Rick Jacobs. Credit: Courtesy URJ
Chemi Shalev
Chemi Shalev

“If you want to be a candidate for the highest office in the world, you can’t be a person of hate and division like Donald Trump is.” This is the emphatic view of Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union of Reform Judaism.

Speaking just before Trump was to take the stage at the AIPAC Conference in Washington DC, Jacobs explained the rationale for his planned walkout before Trump starts to speak. “We need to hold Trump accountable to red lines in our tradition that do not allow to speak ill of other people, to denigrate the other, to promote bigotry. He needs to come clean.”

Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Vandalia, Ohio, March 12, 2016.Credit: AP

Jacobs said there are ongoing talks with the Trump campaign to arrange a meeting with Reform leaders and rabbis to discuss their objections to his statements. He said that despite the walkout, he and other protestors would be attentive to Trump’s message on Israel. But “even if we hear a good clear position, that doesn’t erase his previous statements.”

But Jacobs ruled out other forms of protest, such as the heckling that has plagued many of Trump’s campaign rallies. “He only gains strength from disturbances. It’s not an effective strategy with this candidate”

“If you want to be a candidate to the highest office in the world you can’t be a person of hate and division like he is, it’s not a part of our tradition and not a part of our American way either”, Jacobs said,

He rejected claims that by protesting against Trump, the code of tolerance that AIPAC has shown in the past towards politicians of different views could be broken.

“We’re not talking about policy here. This is an egregious stepping over the line. It’s about hate and bigotry. It’s not about being open to other views, its about being demeaning to other people, women, people with disabilities and many others. We should not tolerate that.”

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