There is No Neutrality on Fascism: Donald Trump's AIPAC Invitation

The world is watching Donald Trump right now. We’ve been watching Donald Trump incite violence against protesters who have predominantly been people of color; we’ve been watching him propose policies that ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. We’ve been watching folks push back in the media, from positions of power, and we’ve seen protesters actually shut down a Trump rally in Chicago. During all of this, AIPAC excitedly announced that Donald Trump will be speaking at its upcoming policy conference.
This decision by AIPAC makes clear how out of touch the American Jewish establishment is from the community and showcases how disastrous centering a communal agenda solely on blind commitment to Israel is. This is a commitment that has no limits; in the name of supporting Israel, AIPAC gives a free pass to endless occupation of Palestinians rooted in racism and domination, and now grants support to the fascism that Trump promotes.
Supporters of AIPAC’s decision have claimed AIPAC has not endorsed Trump but simply invited him to speak because he is the leading candidate in the Republican Party, just as they have invited Hillary Clinton. Supporters claim neutrality. Given everything Trump has shown, we cannot be neutral. The world is watching and this decision screams the Jews have decided to side with white supremacy. The out of touch establishment has decided Israel trumps all– including our own self interest.
If Donald Trump had proposed banning all Jews from coming to the United States, would he have been giving the platform to speak at the AIPAC conference? The answer is undoubtedly no. If today banning Jews was a policy proposal from a presidential candidate and a policy conference led by a minority group invited the speaker in order to “hear him out”, we would have no sympathy; we would say they turned their backs on Jews. By allowing Donald Trump to speak at a major Jewish event, we have turned our backs on marginalized communities. It is that simple. We are not neutral, we are complicit.
When I was growing up, I learned about anti-Semitism and about racism, but I learned about them separately. I learned that Jews were often scapegoated for the world’s problems. I did not learn that anti-Semitism and racism operate under the same system and umbrella of white supremacy- that as Ashkenazi Jews were allowed upward mobility this came at the direct expense of minorities. Jews began to align with their new-found whiteness, an identity that gave them access to great economic advances while communities of color continued to be left behind without such access.
As an Ashkenazi Jew, I am both white and “other”. My family was not always considered white, though. After World War II, American Jews gained access to economic opportunities such as education and home ownership, previously not granted to them. Jews began to “believe themselves white” as Ta-Nehisi Coates would put it.
Our whiteness as Ashkenazi Jews allows us to distance ourselves from people of color and marginalized communities and bask in the privilege and comfort of whiteness but in reality we are still part of the “other”. Even through great privilege in the U.S., both racial and economic, at the end of the day, the system that hates Muslims, Blacks, Latinos, also hates Jews. The system that leads to hateful acts such as the shooting of the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, also led to the shooting of the Jewish Community Center in Kansas City. It all operates under the system of white supremacy. Jews do have a unique history. And at the same time our oppression and liberation are deeply bound with that of other minority communities. Condoning Donald Trump also condones anti-Semitism. This is not hypothetical; Donald Trump has not only said deeply Islamophobic, anti-Latino, sexist remarks but also anti-Semitic remarks regarding Jews’ access to money and more.
Judaism is a beautiful tradition that we should be proud to hold and continue. But American Jewish institutional life has begun to lose a beautiful part of Jewish tradition, the tradition of fighting not only for ourselves but for others. As the Great Sage Hillel asks, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? When I am for myself alone, what am I? If not now, when?” (Pirke Avot 1:14). These three questions were asked together because they cannot be successfully answered and implemented if they are not connected. Our liberation is deeply bound to the liberation of others.
So when Donald Trump enters the stage at AIPAC, will the crowd clap or walk out? Will Jews recognize that Jewish oppression is linked to white supremacy? The same system that hates Muslims also hates Jews. So as Jews are we going to stand in deep solidarity with other minority communities or are we only asking “is this good for the Jews?” And when AIPAC asked if this was good for the Jews, what they really asked is, “How does this decision support Israel?”
It is not breaking news that AIPAC does not represent my values and the values of thousands of progressive Jews. What is breaking news is that when protests are erupting across the country condemning fascism through the avenue of Donald Trump, a major pro-Israel lobby which claims to speak for a majority of the Jewish community has decided to firmly stand with white supremacy. It is time for our community to make a choice, an American Jewish establishment that condones fascism or a Jewish community which stands for freedom and dignity for all?

5 thoughts on “There is No Neutrality on Fascism: Donald Trump's AIPAC Invitation

  1. We Jews are the most despised people in the world and we need prominent gentiles to be our allies. Why should we be sympathetic about those groups that would either like to kill us such as fundamental Muslims, or anti-Semitic groups such as BDS and black lives matter?
    As the democratic party has left us as they are now penetrated by the new left, we are fortunate that many in the GOP support our rights, dignity and Israel which is the only Jewish state in the world. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton has relationships with such anti Zionist such figures as Sidney and Sam Blumenthal and George Soros and Bernie Sanders who has condemned the PM if Israel and Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorist with too much force while he supports and extols such nefarious regimes as those in Cuba and Iran.

  2. Sarah: AIPAC is a tax-exempt non-profit, bound by Section 501 (c) of the tax code. According to the code: “Voter education or registration activities conducted in a biased manner that favors (or opposes) one or more candidates is prohibited.” The spirit of this means that AIPAC is bound by law to invite Mr. Trump or lose its tax-exempt status. Invitation isn’t tacit approval: it’s the law.

  3. Sarah: I stand corrected. AIPAC is a 501 (c) 4. The code here states there is not requirement to invite all candidates. I stand corrected and apologize. Keep up the good work. Credit to Jews Against Trump for putting me in my place!

  4. Good article! Sarah, I would appreciate connecting, I just returned in January from an interfaith trip to, Israel and Palestine

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