Some 40 rabbis are reportedly planning to boycott Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s speech at the pro-Israel AIPAC conference next week.
The group of mainly Reform and Conservative leaders have opted to skip the speech in protest of Trump’s policies and hateful rhetoric, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin, who according to the report is among one of the organizers of the boycott, wrote in a blog post: “We have been urging rabbis to simply not attend the Trump speech — to let our absence be felt and noted.”
“Yes, AIPAC must be hospitable to Trump, but that does not mean that AIPAC participants are hospitable to the candidate’s ideas and candidacy,” he said.
At the same time, Salkin discouraged jeering, walkouts, or any other “more aggressive” forms of protest.
“I hope that there will be no aggressive responses to Trump’s appearance. Such actions would violate AIPAC’s hospitality; guarantee that the protesters will be forcibly ejected from the hall, and would give Donald Trump extra ammunition. This is someone who has no qualms speaking crudely about women, Mexicans, Muslims, the handicapped, and immigrants; does anyone really want to add ‘rabbis’ to his verbal hit list?” he wrote.
The Washington Post report did not name the 40 rabbis planning to boycott the speech.
The Reform Movement earlier this week blasted Trump for his “hate speech,” but backed AIPAC’s invitation of the Republican front-runner to speak at its annual conference.
Along with Trump, Republican candidates Ted Cruz and John Kasich and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton will address the three-day event. Vice President Joe Biden is also scheduled to speak. Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, the race’s only Jewish candidate, remains the sole contender gunning for the White House who has not confirmed a speech at the event.
Earlier this week, an AIPAC staffer sent out an email missive to student activists warning them that any disruption could result in the rescinding of their conference credentials and blacklisting from all future AIPAC events. The organization later distanced itself from complaints that it was unfairly targeting students, and said that the email was sent in error and without authorization.
In the email, received by a number of college students on Monday and seen by The Times of Israel, the AIPAC staffer wrote: “I am acutely aware that there may be speakers at this year’s Policy Conference whose views you do not agree with.” The email did not specify which speakers might be objectionable to attendees, but it was understood to be referring to Trump.