THIS IS NOT A TIME FOR BUSINESS AS USUAL
March 17, 2016 — The leadership of the Jewish Reconstructionist movement urges the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to rescind its invitation to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to speak at its annual gathering next week. At a minimum, we call on AIPAC to clearly affirm that Muslims are welcome in the United States and to condemn all racist statements. The AIPAC gathering, which is the largest annual gathering of American Jews, should not be a platform for espousing hateful rhetoric and racist policies.
We understand that AIPAC invited all presidential candidates and that an invitation is not an endorsement. However, when the values a candidate espouses are inimical to both the lessons of Jewish history and our Jewish ethical values, we must avoid any misunderstanding. This invitation confers an unwarranted legitimacy on Donald Trump’s positions, which include the outright banning of all Muslims from entering the United States.
If any significant organization invited a candidate who explicitly called for Jews to be banned from entering the United States, the entire Jewish community would demand that invitation be rescinded. Trump’s extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric is highly reminiscent of the rhetoric deployed against Jews who immigrated to the United States, and especially, against those who were turned away. The most oft-repeated statement in the Torah is, “Do not oppress the stranger, for you were strangers in Egypt.” We know from history that once any group is targeted as a scapegoat, no group is safe.
We are commanded to intervene to stop the spilling of our neighbor’s blood. We ask AIPAC conference organizers to make a clear distinction, in whatever way possible, between Trump’s hate speech and the American Jewish community that AIPAC claims to represent. The majority of Americans—and this includes everyone, Jews and non-Jews alike—who care about Israel do not want to see Israel advocacy associated with the xenophobic rhetoric that Trump promotes. AIPAC’s repudiation of that rhetoric will express our highest ethical values as Jews and as Americans.
Rabbi Deborah Waxman
Chair, Board of Governors
Rabbi Nina Mandel
President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Rabbi Elyse Wechterman
Executive Director, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Rabbi Joshua Lesser
Chair, Tikkun Olam Commission
Rabbi Mordechai Liebling
Director, Tikkun Olam Commission