Skip To Content
Back to Opinion

Trump’s AIPAC Speech Is Totally Predictable. What About Our Response?

While Jews ardently dispute whether AIPAC should have invited Donald Trump to speak to their Washington conference, that particular die has been cast. The invitation went out.

So Trump — the loudest, most poisonous, nativist, mob-arousing, bigoted public person that America has yet produced in this century — is going to stand at the rostrum of a major gathering of one of America’s most tolerant minorities. My guess is he’ll play nice. I’d lay odds that the country’s prime exponent of banging heads and hating the stranger will toss out a few phrases to suggest that he really does know how to play well with others and that he is the greatest lover of Jews who ever lived and that he will carpet-bomb anyone who ever looks cross-eyed at a Jew.

He will thread these remarks throughout yet another nasty, ill-informed statement about matters he does not understand and does not particularly want to understand (for he’s so smart he doesn’t need to understand), a statement that he will amplify, or back away from, or otherwise contradict when it seems to him convenient to do so.

Once more, he will stick out his jaw and urge the gullible to ignore some of his most loathsome bombast. He will blame the dread liberal press for distorting his kindness. He will assure AIPAC that Jews are amazing, they are the greatest, they make the best deals, that he will make sure Jews get the contracts to build the Mexican wall, that the Jews have demonstrated how strong a wall can be and how great it can look. Whatever.

Whether or not AIPAC should have invited him in the first place, the expected 18,000 Jews who attend face a moment of truth. Will they sit respectfully before a bullying, insulting, authoritarian ignoramus whose most memorable saying is “You’re fired,” as if the man is just another politician out on the hustings?

Forward editor Jane Eisner has offered a fine list of on AIPAC’s stage. I commend her list and wish to add two gentle suggestions:

Walk out. Silently. Rabbis first. Wear tallit, robes, or other signs that you have been designated leaders. Show that you are actually leaders rather than sheep. You’ll get, from the news cameras, the attention that you deserve. For the rest of America, you’ll supply a teachable moment.

Stand up if you don’t want to walk out. Turn your backs on him. Say nothing. Shout nothing. Witness on behalf of what American Jews stand for. Just stand there. Do not stomach this disgrace. Show that there is some bombast you will not swallow.

Todd Gitlin, Professor of Journalism and Sociology and Chair of the Ph.D. Program in Communications at Columbia, and an Honorary Professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, is a board member of Partners for Progressive Israel and a columnist for Tablet.

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.