Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

AIPAC Apologizes for Donald Trump’s Attack on President Obama

WASHINGTON — In an emotional apology, the AIPAC leadership expressed regret to President Barack Obama for an attack on him from its stage by Donald Trump, and for the loud applause it earned.

“While we may have policy differences, we deeply respect the office of the President of the United States and our President Barack Obama,” Lillian Pinkus, the newly installed president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, said Tuesday, joined by other AIPAC lay and professional leaders.

Editor’s note: See Apology at the 45:25 mark

AIPAC’s evident anguish in the aftermath of Trump’s remarks undid the hopes that the Republican front-runner’s speech to the lobby would somehow help bring him into the mainstream.

“There are people in our AIPAC family who were deeply hurt last night and for that we are deeply sorry,” Pinkus said, her voice choking. “We are deeply disappointed that so many people applauded a sentiment that we neither agree with or condone.”

Launching a critique of Obama’s U.N. policy, Trump, a real estate magnate, had begun a sentence Monday evening, “With President Obama in his final year –“ Then he stopped himself and said “Yay!”

Cheers and laughter and applause arose from the crowd of 18,000 packed into the Verizon Center, a sports arena used by the lobby for the first time to accommodate record breaking numbers.

“He may be the worst thing to ever happen to Israel, believe me, believe me,” Trump said. “And you know it and you know it better than anybody.”

Pinkus said AIPAC does not “countenance ad homimen attacks.”

“We take great offense at those that are levied against the president of the United States of America from our stage,” she said.

Trump’s candidacy has appalled a broad swath of the Jewish community because of his broadsides against Mexicans and Muslims, his insults directed at women and the disabled and the violence at his rallies. AIPAC came under criticism in some quarters for inviting him to speak. The lobby countered that it had to invite the front-runner. AIPAC’s leaders had called on Trump to deliver substance.

Trump’s speech included substantive content on how he would approach peacemaking and confronting Iran. But he could not resist departing from prepared remarks to deliver the red meat that has typified his boisterous remarks at his rallies. In addition to his remark on Obama, his description of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, as a “total disaster” also drew cheers, applause and laughter.

Rabbi Menachem Creditor, a progressive whom AIPAC was highlighting to underscore its outreach to the left, told JTA that he adjusted his remarks on Tuesday morning to address the fallout from Trump’s speech.

“We must not embrace the politics of hate,” Creditor said in his remarks to AIPAC, after a video presentation on his career and his pro-Israel activity, which immediately followed Pinkus’s apology.

“AIPAC’s commitment to bipartisanship isn’t just about being mensches in the world,” he said. “The only way to keep Israel strong and to build a beloved community here in the United States is to regard the multiplicity of voices her and in our nation as sacred.”

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.