AIPAC’s Weird Apology For Donald Trump

The AIPAC president was fighting back tears! What a wimp.

David Weigel writes for the Washington Post:

This morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu experienced something that American politicians have become all too familiar with — being overshadowed by Donald Trump.

The prime minister’s video-linked speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s conference was preceded by the unscheduled introduction of AIPAC President Lillian Pinkus and four other leaders. Choking back tears, Pinkus apologized for Monday night’s speeches, implying that Donald Trump had violated a nonpartisan standard.

“From the moment this conference began, until this moment, we have preached a message of unity,” Pinkus said. “We have said, in every way we can think of: Come together. But last evening, something occurred which has the potential to drive us apart, to divide us. We say, unequivocally, that we do not countenance ad hominem attacks, and we take great offense to those that are levied against the president of the United States of America from our stage.”

Trump’s speech, which he largely recited from a teleprompter, was actually notable for its low level of invective. A candidate who has mocked Marco Rubio’s thirstiness, Rand Paul’s looks, Jeb Bush’s energy level and Carly Fiorina’s face confined his criticism of Obama to a few tossed-off insults.

“With President Obama in his final year — yay!” said Trump, adding an exclamation not in the text and earning huge applause. Later, diverting from his text again, he called the president “maybe the worst thing to happen to Israel.”

AIPAC, already criticized for giving Trump an invitation, decided the rhetoric needed condemnation.

“While we may have policy differences, we deeply respect the office of president of the United States and our president, Barack Obama,” Pinkus said. “There were people in our AIPAC family who were deeply hurt last night, and for that we are deeply sorry. We are disappointed that so many people applauded the sentiment that we neither agree with or condone. Let us close this conference in recognition that when we say ‘Come together,’ we still have a lot to learn from each other, and we still have much work to do.”

Yet while AIPAC invites candidates and leaders from both parties, and while it discourages protests from the audience, Trump was hardly the first speaker to criticize a sitting president. He was followed on the stage by Ted Cruz, who compared the administration’s deal with Iran to the 1938 Munich agreement that handed Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland to Adolf Hitler’s Germany. Four years earlier, AIPAC allowed Mitt Romney to address the conference by satellite, and he went on to accuse the president of “lecturing” Israel and “emboldening” the Palestinians.

But no AIPAC speech had been criticized like Trump’s. Jane Eisner, the editor in chief of Jewish news source the Forward, wrote that she was “ashamed that any of my fellow Jews could applaud” Trump.

“I am ashamed that they would succumb to the pandering lies,” she wrote. “Donald Trump ought to have been received civilly but silently by AIPAC. Instead, the applause spoke volumes.”

Chemi Shalev, a correspondent for Israel’s Haaretz, left the Trump speech in shock and asked how fellow Jews could have applauded it.

“The enthusiastic reception given Trump could very well deepen the fault lines inside the Jewish community that were uncovered over the summer in the bitter clash over the Iran nuclear deal,” he wrote, adding that “it was good enough to transform Trump from a morally repugnant presidential candidate into a run of the mill contender who deserves as much respect as the others.”

It was the reaction — wild applause now available to view on Trump’s campaign website — that was officially rejected by AIPAC.

COMMENTS:

* The PC crowd, as usual, suffers & cringes at hearing the truth. I am no Trump fan, but he spoke the truth; it’s no small wonder his input was so well received by the audience. The world is a very dangerous place, mostly thanks to PC.

* If Jane Eisner and Lillian Pinkus are ashamed of AIPAC attendees for applauding Trump’s speech, then allow me to be ashamed of Jane Eisner and Lillian Pinkus. Since when do Americans sit on their hands at any kind of speech?! It is ALWAYS appropriate to applaud what you like something in a speech. It is unnecessary to boo what you don’t like (silence does the trick) but if you feel compelled, then go ahead and Boo.

The danger in the western world today is this over-arching sense of Political Correctness. It is self-censorship and muzzles freedom of speech. It is very dangerous not to express thought that could otherwise provide a new positive direction for society. If there are people in the audience that have their feelings hurt ty the words of a speaker, then too bad for them! They are demonstrating the pitifying of America where words can hurt. I have often disagreed with Obama’s and Hillary’s words. I am not hurt by those words and I am not asking anyone to stop them from speaking!

* Not sure why AIPAC leadership is disavowing a speech that garnered so much applause from its members. I am no fan of Trump and prefer Kasich but K’s speech is the one they should be apologizing for. It was pure pandering and painful to watch. AIPAC leadership is clearly all in for the Ice Queen in spite of what the rank and file thinks (knows). How typical.

* I watched the speech and practically the entire crowd was very receptive to Trump. They applauded him frequently and many gave standing ovations. He knocked it out of the park. Now this? Total nonsense. The people there loved what Trump had to say. Not one protester either. Until now…

* Well done AIPAC. You have invited a man to speak. Your audience has listened to what he has to say. Your audience has applauded him. Then you come with one of the biggest backstabbing , most disgraceful emotional garbage i think i have ever seen in my life. You just handed Louis Farrakhan the proof that he needed. “Trump didn’t accept Jewish money” Do you actually realise how stupid you are? You have set the cause back 100 years or more. It is clearly obvious that you do not understand what is happening in America right now and you have put your name to Barrack Obama in public. If Trump wins then you gain is only valid until November. If Trump is assassinated then god help the Jews of America because who do you think will be blamed? I am calling for the immediate removal of these traitors who have sold out AIPAC and the security of the Jewish people. This is really one of the most stupid idiotic things i think i have ever seen. Do you even realise how many people want Trump in and why. No probably not because you sold Israel out while you were having a latte last night deciding how you would demonstrate your political correctness in the speech that you wrote and read from. It was not from the heart, IT WAS A PREPARED DOCUMENT. Israel is under a daily threat and OBAMA has done nothing but lip service. You would have to be a complete imbecile to burn AIPAC in favour of Obama and to be honest, now i am even questioning who has been paid off. Even i am starting to question how many people are actually involved in this massive push to stop Trump. I even am wondering if Louis Farrakhan was right. This has opened my eyes to the entire truth. This is one of the biggest betrayals i think i have ever seen and i honestly believe that this situation that you created is going to come back to haunt, big time. This is a monumental mistake and AIPAC will be held to account for it. If Trump dies then the safety of jews and the distrust that will come will be on your heads. SHAMEFUL.

“Trump delivered a speech that could easily have been written in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem or AIPAC headquarters in Washington, and for all we know, possibly was. He vowed to “dismantle” the nuclear deal with Iran as well as Tehran’s terrorist infrastructure, condemned Palestinian incitement and praised Israeli moderation. He said that Obama was the worst-ever President for Israel and the crowd burst out in loud applause, as if the assertion was some kind of “open sesame” that removes any roadblocks standing in Trump’s way.” – Chemi Shalev

Trump’s Hypnotic Gig at AIPAC Will Go Down in History – or Infamy
Like a Pied Piper, the GOP front-runner’s pro-Israel magic tricks swept his Jewish audience from initial suspicion to outright enthusiasm.

On Monday night, Donald Trump showed how and why he might be elected president of the United States. Invited to participate in a candidate’s forum at AIPAC’s annual conference, he came, he spoke, he conquered. In future history, the 2016 AIPAC Policy Conference might yet be viewed as a watershed event on way to the Trump Era.
Trump entered the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. as a prime suspect but emerged clean as a whistle. In less than half an hour, he took a skeptical and apprehensive audience and turned them into gushing cheerleaders. He went into the arena as a racist demagogue but soon came out as an ostensibly serious contender. He faced a tough test of his mettle but passed it with flying colors and hardly any effort. He came away with a kosher “K” certificate, issued by one of the most powerful and influential organizations in America.
If Trump is ultimately elected president, AIPAC leaders will be able to proudly point to their prescience: They will have scored valuable points with a man who could soon decide Israel’s future. If Trump doesn’t make it, however, his appearance on Monday could live in AIPAC infamy as the day well-meaning Jews sold their consciences in exchange for banal pledges of support for Israel. This, in any case, is the way many liberal Jews will see it. They’ve been claiming for years that AIPAC has turned into a branch of both the Likud party and the GOP, though few of them knew it had gone this far.
Trump proved that he knows exactly how to press the right Jewish buttons, much as he has shown his expertise in manipulating the fears and resentments of middle class, white Americans. He told the AIPAC delegates exactly what they wanted and what they’re used to hearing — and they loved it. He mocked other candidates for pandering and proceeded to pander as if there’s no tomorrow.
Trump delivered a speech that could easily have been written in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem or AIPAC headquarters in Washington, and for all we know, possibly was. He vowed to “dismantle” the nuclear deal with Iran as well as Tehran’s terrorist infrastructure, condemned Palestinian incitement and praised Israeli moderation. He said that Obama was the worst-ever President for Israel and the crowd burst out in loud applause, as if the assertion was some kind of “open sesame” that removes any roadblocks standing in Trump’s way.
Perhaps it was stronger than them. Everyone was well aware of the problematic invitation issued to Trump and if anyone had missed it, AIPAC officials repeatedly cautioned the crowd to act with respect and refrain from embarrassing spectacles or protests. But they could have saved themselves the effort. Like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, Trump played a beguiling Israel-pleasing tune that captivated the audience, calmed their fears, dissolved their doubts and then enticed them to proceed from hesitant applause through louder acclimation all the way to standing ovations and a crescendo of cheers.
“I will move the American Embassy to the eternal capital of Jerusalem,” Trump said, in a pledge that is sure to remain unfulfilled but nonetheless seemed to erase his words of hatred and bigotry against Mexicans, Muslims and even Jews, as if it was sorcery. Trump described his agreement to serve as Grand Marshal of the Salute to Israel Parade as a grave danger that only the bold and the brave could overcome, and his audience, now clearly warming to his act, refrained from bursting out in laughter.
Trump is usually an undisciplined speaker who lacks concentration and focus, allowing his stream of consciousness to narrate his thoughts and his powers of improvisation to phrase them. So it was that less than an hour before he came to AIPAC, which focuses on American aid to Israel, Trump raised the bizarre demand that Israel, like other rich American allies, repay the financial assistance it had received from America. Hey, it just popped into my head, Trump seemed to indicate, so it must be a good idea.

In honor of AIPAC, however, he undertook an extreme makeover, reading a tightly formulated speech from the kind of teleprompter that he usually mocks. He didn’t deviate from his prepared text, which wasn’t any different from the addresses made on Monday by Hillary Clinton, John Kasich and even House Speaker Paul Ryan, another AIPAC favorite. Ted Cruz, usually considered a far better speaker than Trump, suddenly sounded dazed and confused.
It’s true that Kasich garnered the loudest applause of the night, but the Ohio Governor’s nomination remains a pipe dream rather than a practical possibility. Cruz was also received warmly, despite his slightly off key evening in which he blasted Trump, for example, for talking about Palestine and Palestinians when everyone knows that these had ceased to exist in 1948. Even that sentence earned applause, because as far as AIPAC is concerned, even the sky is no limit for pro-Israel statements, no matter how bizarre.
Judging from a few conversations I had after the speech, it left many Jews in a state of shock. That’s because they weren’t there and couldn’t feel the magic, one AIPAC sympathizer told me, and maybe he had a point. Nonetheless, the enthusiastic reception given Trump could very well deepen the fault lines inside the Jewish community that were uncovered over the summer in the bitter clash over the Iran nuclear deal. With a Trump Presidency, it’s not the security of far away Israel that’s at stake but the well-being of America, closer to home. The potential for schism is there.
Some commentators, including this one, thought that the Trump Show at AIPAC would yield more protests and more turbulence, beyond the demonstrations outside. Instead, what we got was a standard AIPAC speech that promises the moon and garners applause even though everyone knows it’s just an empty slogan that isn’t really going to happen. Nonetheless it was good enough to transform Trump from a morally repugnant presidential candidate into a run of the mill contender who deserves as much respect as the others.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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