Welcome! I am Rabbi Jonathan Biatch of Madison, Wisconsin. "Pulpit Perspectives: My Observations as a Congregational Rabbi" is published every two weeks to reflect my observations about life in my congregation and with my members. The opinions expressed here are solely my own. I invite you to join the dialogue!

Friday, March 18, 2016

The New Jewish Angle in the Presidential Campaign

You knew it had to come to this.

The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) has invited, as it does every four years, all the presidential candidates to speak at its national convention next week.  Among them is Donald Trump, who has accepted the invitation.  And thankfully, among many of my rabbinic colleagues, there is a plan for a protest at that appearance.  You can see some of the angst through their words at this website:  www.cometogetheragainsthate.com/#!press-1/emvb4.  The Reform movement has also been thinking about what to do, and you can see their thinking by clicking here.

It is usual for presidential candidates to present their pro-Israel bona fides to this group, and for Aipac implicitly to say to candidates that a pro-Israel position could garner them Jewish monetary support and votes in the campaign.

But this is clearly not a normal election year.

The leading GOP candidate has unbelievably gained strength among his followers through the hateful use of racist, misogynist, and derogatory language against the press and anyone whom he does not like.  He has bombasted his way toward his party’s nomination mainly on the backs of Mexicans, Muslims, and women.  And the pro-Israel community now provides this bigoted blowhard a platform from which potentially to lob insults and ignorance?!

News of this invitation to speak at Aipac came with no explanation or disclaimer about the organization’s feelings about Trump’s unusual campaign methods or irresponsible use of hateful rhetoric.  It is no surprise that groups of Jews are terribly concerned about the image of Aipac, the sense that the American Jewish community somehow endorses Trump’s hateful methods and conclusions, and the future of the relationship of Jews and the two major political parties.

Keep listening, my friends.