Donald Trump’s appearance at the upcoming AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington has at least one Jewish group planning to protest.
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The group of professionals and clergy, which calls itself “Come Together Against Hate,” says that Trump and his hate speech have no place at the annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
“We are committed to saying that Donald Trump does not speak for us or represent us, and his values are not AIPAC’s values,” wrote Rabbis David Paskin of West Palm Beach Florida, and Jesse Olitzky of South Orange, New Jersey in announcing the action.
“They are not the values of the Jewish community. They are not the values of our founders’ vision of an America where all citizens are ‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.’”
The group, which has a growing growing Facebook presence, will distribute stickers and flyers at the conference, organizers said. They also plan a silent walk-out during Trump’s speech, planned for Monday evening (others, they say, will simply not attend); and a simultaneous group Torah teach-in.
The Reform movement also issued a statement this week that implied they may protest as well. “We will find an appropriate and powerful way to make our voices heard,” that statement read.
“Some people don’t want to go [hear Mr. Trump] and we respect that,” said Rabbi Paskin, “Others want the visuals of being in that room, standing up and silently leaving.
“We will all be gathering and learning Torah,” he explained. “We will be learning about Sinat Chinam, senseless hatred, and Derech Eretz (Common Decency).”
College student, Zach Reizes, from Ohio, wrote on Facebook that “AIPAC has put me in a moral bind that I cannot find a way out of.” He included a screenshot of an email he said was from AIPAC, which said anyone who disrupts the conference will be booted.
“If you choose to disrupt the program, understand that you will be removed, your conference credentials will be taken, and it will be the last AIPAC event you attend,” the email read.
AIPAC has disavowed that message. Spokesman Marshall Wittman told The Forward that the “email unfortunately went out in error and without authorization.”
“There is only one policy concerning disruptive behavior at Policy Conference – which has been our policy for the past four years – and it applies to all delegates whether students or non-students . That policy has been indicated on delegate badges this year and in past years, ‘AIPAC reserves the right to deny access to participants who behave in a manner AIPAC deems disruptive.’”
Reizes told The Forward he later got an apology: “An official at AIPAC whom I know and respect called me and expressed his apologies. He wanted to emphasize that the email was poorly worded and did not reflect how AIPAC feels about student protests.”
The rabbis behind Come Together Against Hate say their “goal is not to disrupt the conference.”
“Throughout his campaign Trump has made statements that have have been bigoted, racist, misogynistic, and Islamophobic – some could argue even statements that were anti-Semitic. So with that in mind, I think the Jewish community has a responsibility,” said Rabbi Olitzsky. “If we sit around and do nothing, even if we sit in silence, that shows complacency and that, by default, we agree with what he says. It is imperative to me as a communal leader, and to all Jews there who are going, that we stand up to his demagoguery.”
The AIPAC Policy Conference regularly invites presidential candidates from both parties to address the audience during election years.
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