Politics, Religion

Reform Movement will challenge Donald Trump's rhetoric at AIPAC confab

In an unprecedented move today, the Reform Movement objected to issued a statement about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s invitation to AIPAC’s annual policy conference.
In a joint statement by its two major bodies the URJ and CCAR, the top leadership vowed to “find an appropriate and powerful way” to object to Mr. Trump’s inclusion at AIPAC’s annual policy conference in DC. The statement is unusual for several reasons. First, becasue the denominations do not wade into electoral politics often if at all. And the statement itself takes issue with Trump’s divisive rhetoric and vows to engage his views, but stops short of criticizing AIPAC for the invitation.
What does the statement mean? Is this a Reform movement criticism of the pro-Israel heavyweight? (How can one criticize the attendance of a racist without implicating the invitation?) Will Reform Jews protest Trump’s speech? (Unlikely given the caveat to “appropriate and powerful” methods.)
Full statement below.

The Reform Jewish Movement has always worked very closely with AIPAC. We respect completely its decision to invite all the viable candidates for president to speak at its upcoming Policy Conference. By inviting the candidates to speak, AIPAC does not support or oppose their candidacies, nor does it condone or commend their policies. AIPAC has, as it must, a singular focus: the U.S./Israel relationship. AIPAC’s intent – and its responsibility – is to better understand the candidates’ views on issues that impact the U.S./Israel relationship.
We know the invitation to candidate Donald Trump was issued in that spirit, and we therefore understand AIPAC’s decision to extend the invitation. Mr. Trump is the unarguable frontrunner for the Republican nomination, and he has not yet spoken clearly about his views on U.S./Israel issues. The AIPAC Policy Conference will give him an opportunity to do so, just as it does for other candidates.
At the same time, we cannot ignore the many issues on which Mr. Trump has spoken clearly. His campaign has been replete with naked appeals to bigotry, especially against Hispanics and Muslims. Previous comments he has made – and not disavowed – have been offensive to women, people of color, and other groups. In recent days, increasingly, he appears to have gone out of his way to encourage violence at his campaign events.
At every turn, Mr. Trump has chosen to take the low road, sowing seeds of hatred and division in our body politic.
Mr. Trump’s extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric reminds us that our own ancestors’ access to American shores of freedom and promise were once blocked, with deadly consequences. When he speaks hatefully of Mexicans or Muslims, for example, we recall a time when anti-Semitism put Jews at deathly danger, even in the United States. We cannot remain silent, for we have been commanded to “remember the heart of the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
His approach to immigration, his proposal to ban Muslims from entering our country, his comments speaking favorably about the use of torture, and his general demeanor of disrespect for the office he now seeks are all anathema to our fundamental values. The values we hold most dear – justice, mercy, compassion, peace – are altogether absent from Mr. Trump’s statements.
The great sage Rabbi Hillel offered us guidance centuries ago, saying, “Do not do unto others what you would not want done to you.” Jewish history is replete with times when political leaders, both at home and abroad, demonized the Jewish community much as Mr. Trump now demonizes Muslims, Hispanics, and African-Americans. We, the leadership of the Reform Jewish Movement, believe we must speak up against such hate speech.
As a religious movement, we do not endorse or oppose any candidates – and we do not do so now. We have often listened to and, more importantly, engaged with candidates and officeholders whose views sharply differ from our own; such interactions are the essence of our political system. But Mr. Trump is not simply another candidate. In his words and actions, he makes clear that he is engaging in a new form of political discourse, and so the response to his candidacy demands a new approach, as well.
The Reform Movement and our leaders will engage with Mr. Trump at the AIPAC Policy Conference in a way that affirms our nation’s democracy and our most cherished Jewish values. We will find an appropriate and powerful way to make our voices heard.
Union for Reform Judaism
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President, and Daryl Messinger, Chair of the Board
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Denise L. Eger, President, and Rabbi Steven A. Fox, CEO

13 thoughts on “Reform Movement will challenge Donald Trump's rhetoric at AIPAC confab

  1. I’m not a Trump supporter but anything that upsets the heretical Reform movement is a good thing, so I definitely back AIPAC’s invitation.
    I also want to add that nowhere in their statement did URJ “object” to the Trump invitation. This post is disingenuous at best, and a lie at worst.

  2. This headline and the article’s author say precisely the opposite of what the URJ says. The URJ statement says, ‘We respect completely its (AIPAC’s) decision to invite all viable candidates…’ The URJ statement shows clearly that the URJ objects to Trump but goes out of its way to highlight that the invitation by AIPAC is appropriate based on its overall goals and approaches. The URJ statement doesn’t object to AIPAC’s decision at all. In fact their statement says that they ‘completely respect’ AIPAC’s decision.

  3. I am a realist and I live in Israel. While plenty of my neighbors assume all will be well in Israel since the IDF arms itself with magic dust having nothing to do with American military aid, and others in America get to sit in safety from rockets and stabbings and debate the morality of AIPAC inviting someone who makes racist and antisemitic comments like Donald Trump, I don’t have that luxury. I am constantly threatened by people who want to kill me, and am protected by soldiers carrying weapons and flying helicopters and planes that say, “Made in the USA” on them. Donald Trump could very well be the next President and if so, will have a very significant influence on my family’s safety. If nothing else, AIPAC is about effective political advocacy on behalf of the U.S.-Israel relationship. Ensuring that all aspiring elected officials are Pro-Israel is one of AIPAC’s missions and greatest achievements.
    For all who think that we’ll be fine as long as we’re in Israel, that America will continue to help Israel whether or not we lobby, and who think making a point is more important than being effective, please, go ahead and preach. The other 18,000 of us will head to Washington next week and hope to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship by talking and listening to anyone who aspires to hold office in the United States. It’s called effective political advocacy, and it’s what we practice.

    1. This week there are numerous articles about Rabbis who are against Mr. TRUMP, especially regarding those who walked out prior to his speaking at AIPAC. I share with you the walk out was a sign of disrespect. This is a man who may be the next president of the United States. When I started Rabbi for Trump people and the media laughed at me, when I stopped Rabbi for Trump because his position on Israel was not to my liking, ie neutral stand and no position of a undivided Jerusalem and the fact that his people would not communicate with me, people and the media attacked me again. Then I was granted a major meeting with his people , including a discussion with Trump’s campaign manager, there was no story. Rabbi for Trump is very much alive. I encourage those Rabbis who want to attack Mr. TRUMP to attack me also. Willing to debate them any where, any place. By the way I am in face book jail and can not comment on public sites. Please share this message for me. I attacked the MUSLIMS FOR THEIR SILENCE and encouraged undercover police to be in their mosques. Rabbi DR. Bernhard ROSENBERG, RABBI FOR TRUMP…. HAPPY Purim….

  4. Jews everywhere must be keen eyed when it comes to confronting a hate monger like Donald Trump, who has set up a new security squad called the SA. Every historian of the Holocaust knows what the SA in Germany was all about. Coincidence or irony?

  5. Please invite John Kasich… Trump is not a viable Republican candidate for Jews.. Katich has been overlooked and would be a great friend and aly to Israel and to American Jews.

    1. Kasich says he would legalize tens of millions of illegals. If he’s stupid enough to do that to America, imagine what he would push on Israel.
      Cruz or Trump.

  6. 1. We are Jews and Israel is OK, we guess.
    2. But our true religion is progressive ideology.
    So we do have a conundrum.

  7. Trump is for securing the borders and legal immigration. Not sure why this article has to add to the left-wing progressive propaganda that Trump is anti Hispanic, Muslim, and ludicrously African-American. Sure he is brash and he uses words no Presidential candidate has ever used. But to a plurality of the Republican voters that is refreshing.
    We are Americans FIRST and I believe that gets lost sometimes with all the Anti-Trump rhetoric that is put forth. Every single thing that Trump puts out puts American first. If that’s not your priority, then maybe you shouldn’t be in America.
    As far as his stance being “neutral” on Israel, if you think someone who acts 100% on Israel’s side is going to broker peace with Palestine then you are nuts. He was asked how to broker peace and he said that deal would be impossible because of the Palestinians hate for Israel. The man is 100% behind Israel.

  8. Bernhard Rosenberg · Rabbi Emeritus at Congregation Beth El, Edison NJ
    Just now I received this because I support Mr. TRUMP. Harry Bauskin · Toronto, Ontario
    Bernhard Rosenberg You are not Hitler rabbi. “kapo” would be a better title for you. I called him a coward and offered to meet him any time any place…..RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG
    Bernhard Rosenberg · Rabbi Emeritus at Congregation Beth El, Edison NJ
    Just now I received this because I support Mr. TRUMP. Harry Bauskin · Toronto, Ontario
    Bernhard Rosenberg You are not Hitler rabbi. “kapo” would be a better title for you. I called him a coward and offered to meet him any time any place…..RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

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