AIPAC email warning against protests
Israel, Politics

AIPAC disavows email barring student protesters for life

When faced with the growing public outcry against their invitation to Donald Trump, a staff member at AIPAC sent the above email to student attendees threatening to bar those who protest from future AIPAC conferences. At the same time, more Jewish groups were announcing plans to protest, including a silent walkout.
The staffer, unidentified, wrote, “I am acutely aware that there may be speakers at this year’s Police Conference whose views you do not agree with.” The email continues, “You are welcome to disagree silently and respectfully,” but that (in bold, underlined text) “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.”
Ohio undergrad Zach Reizes, an AIPAC supporter, received the email and was “dumbstruck.” In response, he published a long Facebook post, reproduced below with his permission, stating publicly his objections to the email. He wrote, “as Jews we must be prepared to demonstrate that Donald Trump does not represent the values of our community. If we do not, we run the risk of being complicit in the repeat of history that AIPAC exists to prevent.”

Instead of telling us students to sit down and be quiet, give us constructive alternatives to protest hate. Make a statement denouncing bigotry, or give us the means to demonstrate that there is no place for hateful rhetoric in the Jewish community.

But later AIPAC reversed itself. According to Reizes and the Times of Israel, the AIPAC official told Reizes that the email did not reflect a message that the organization wished to send to its student activists: “the student email unfortunately went out in error and without authorization.” AIPAC’s spokesman said it’s only policy has long been that “AIPAC reserves the right to deny access to participants who behave in a manner AIPAC deems disruptive.”
Although it is not clear how many attendees will protest, the website of Come Together Against Hate claims that “thousands” will do so.
Below is Reizes’ Facebook post in full.

Hello everybody. My name is Zach Reizes, and I am an undergrad student in Ohio. After receiving word via email (attached) that any student protests would be silenced, I’ve written this statement. It is NOT a condemnation of AIPAC’s invitation to Donald Trump. It IS an explanation of why AIPAC has put my in a moral bind that I cannot find a way out of. Please share this as widely as you feel comfortable.
Dear AIPAC,
Over the past three years, AIPAC has been instrumental in my education about Israel, teaching me to stand up for security and speak out against hate. AIPAC has also taught me to take pride in being Jewish. I do not want to do anything that would jeopardize my relationship with AIPAC, so I write this email with trepidation. However, your organization has also taught me to speak up for myself and for my values.
When I came to Ohio University, on the first day of my freshman year I was ready for a challenge. For many, I would be the first Jew that they would ever meet, and I accepted the role of liaison for my people with humility and pride. I AM A JEW! I would exclaim, spreading my message of love and acceptance across our sleepy campus. I am a descendant of slaves, immigrants, beggars, settlers, and survivors. I know that my ancestors fought, fled, and struggled against the oppression of minorities so that I may be in the privileged position that I am in today.
Which is why, when I received an email yesterday explaining that I would not be allowed to protest Donald Trump’s speech, I was dumbstruck. This e-mail explained that, under penalty of never being invited to an AIPAC event again, my fellow students and I must sit quietly in tacit support of a man who speaks against every value I hold close. The email also offered no constructive alternatives, such as “people who disagree with a speaker may leave for that time and gather elsewhere,” or “you are welcome to discuss this issue in such-and-such venue.” The email – with its threat of consequences in bold – was a reminder to youth to know our place. I am not aware of a similar email sent to other AIPAC constituents.
Elie Wiesel taught us: “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented…. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”
I understand why Donald Trump, along with all Presidential candidates, must be invited to AIPAC. I do not fault the organization for inviting him, or allowing him the time to speak. But as Jews we must be prepared to demonstrate that Donald Trump does not represent the values of our community. If we do not, we run the risk of being complicit in the repeat of history that AIPAC exists to prevent.
As pro-Israel advocates, we have a moral obligation to prevent authoritarian rulers from achieving ultimate power. Our job is not to insulate ourselves from persecution at the expense of all others. Instead, we must use our status to combat hatred, and to combat ignorance, where they can do the most damage.
Instead of telling us students to sit down and be quiet, give us constructive alternatives to protest hate. Make a statement denouncing bigotry, or give us the means to demonstrate that there is no place for hateful rhetoric in the Jewish community.
Thank you,
Zachary Daniel Reizes

One thought on “AIPAC disavows email barring student protesters for life

  1. Hi Zach
    I’m personally am not a fan of Donald Trump. I am however a fan of Aipac and greatly support their work and dedication. They work endless hours at their jobs. At all levels. I believe it’s a matter of respect and picking the right forum to express your dislike for a candidate. A rally, a letter, an email would be more appropriate. Did you ever consider the mayham a protest inside the hall could cause. This policy conference takes a full year and a lot of our donors money to pull together. So when Aipac asks it’s delegates to respectfully withhold their personal opinions and emotions, can you not understand why? I grew up in another country surrounded by anti Semitism my entire life, I know and understand the frustrations of people doing, saying and believing in things which are completely against everything you stand for. However we as Jews should be an example to the rest of the world and behave like menches.
    I hope you and your friends can perhaps re-think your positions. Sincerely, Rozanne Burstein

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