On Monday, Mar. 21, four Americans who are competing to be the next President of the United States spoke to the thousands gathered in Washington, D.C. at the policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
In what should be considered a shocking breach of etiquette, the morning after those speeches, the president of AIPAC gave a verbal spanking to one of the speakers.
The four speakers on Monday were the Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, and the three remaining Republican candidates in the race, Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) and Gov. John Kasich (OH).
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders chose not to attend the AIPAC conference.
It’s hard to come up with a more familiar face at AIPAC than Clinton. Her speech was warmly applauded by the crowd and she threw out lots of the standard tropes: “defending our ally in the Middle East” and the “unbreakable bond between Israel and the U.S.”
The audience also responded appreciatively when Clinton repeatedly attacked Republican frontrunner Trump. Nor did they boo when she spoke positively about perhaps the most important – and detested – foreign policy issue of the past year, the Nuclear Iran Deal.
AIPAC spent an unprecedented nearly $30 million in advertising and lobbying efforts to kill the Iran Deal. That was because AIPAC leadership decided the deal was far too dangerous for Israel and for the United States for them to sit on the sidelines. There are many who believe AIPAC badly – perhaps permanently – damaged its reputation by pouring so much money and other resources into fighting the terrible deal, and losing.
And yet, Hillary Clinton praised the deal during her talk to the AIPAC policy conference on Monday. Of that Iran Deal, Clinton said,: “I really believe the United States, Israel and the world are safer as a result.”
Lillian Pinkus, AIPAC’s president, did not chide Clinton for, essentially, rubbing AIPAC’s nose in its loss on the Iran Deal. Nope, that would be bad form.
But what Pinkus did go after was criticism of President Barack Obama, who was, of course, the architect and chief cheerleader of the disastrous Nuclear Iran Deal. It was also Obama who said in words and later in deeds that he wished to put daylight between the U.S. and Israel.
According to reports, Pinkus was tearful when she gave a statement, flanked by her top officers, apologizing for one of the speakers who dared to actually call Obama on his misdeeds towards Israel.
In the context of rumored threats that the President was going to impose a “solution” on Israel in a U.N. Security Council Resolution, Donald Trump said to the AIPAC policy conference that Obama was “in his last year in office.” He then extemporaneously added “yay.” The audience responded with a roaring cheer and thunderous applause. Trump continued with: “Obama may be the worst thing to ever happen to Israel,” which was met with more, albeit subdued, applause.
Near the end of his talk, Trump said what so many pro-Israel Americans fervently believe, which is that “Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have treated Israel very, very badly.”
That so many in the audience applauded those statements by Trump – though he is not generally a favorite in the American Jewish community – should have lifted the blinders from the eyes of the firmly-cemented-in-the-Democratic-party AIPAC leadership. It didn’t.
Instead, Pinkus and her team decided to attack Trump for making his statements, thereby injecting their own political orientation to the mix.
No harsh words for Clinton who praised the Nuclear Iran Deal, AIPAC’s sworn nemesis, but a “tearful condemnation” of Trump for daring to speak from his heart about the current president, and an admonishment for those in the crowd who dared to applaud Trump’s temerity.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the third contender for the Republican nomination for President of the United States spoke at the policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Council on Monday, March. 21. Kasich spoke after Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, so his transcript and video were not available when the AIPAC edition was published on Monday.
Here is Kasich’s entire speech:
Well, I’m delighted to be back at AIPAC, an organization I’ve known and worked with since the early 1980s.
You know, back then your audience numbered in the hundreds. A testament to AIPAC is that those crowds are now in the thousands, as we can see today.
FIRST VISIT TO ISRAEL IN 1983
You know, I first visited Israel in 1983 with my late dear friend Gordon Zacks. As you all know, Gordon was a founding member of AIPAC, and it was on that trip that I actually visited Bethlehem and I called my mother on Christmas night from Jerusalem. As you can imagine, it was a very, very special moment. And Gordon always reminded me of it.
Gordon helped me as much as anyone has over the years to know and to appreciate the importance of our relationship with Israel and Israel’s unique security challenges. And I can’t think of a better guy who could have taken me to Israel.
AVITAL AND NATAN SHARANSKY
It was on my trip in 1983 that Gordon introduced me to Avital Sharansky, when her husband Natan was still in a Soviet prison. She told me her husband’s story over lunch at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem and said she was going to Washington to plead for his release. I asked her, would you mind if I organized a rally in support of your husband on the steps of the Capitol. And so we came together in a bipartisan way to call for Natan Sharansky’s release.
You know, Gordy had taken Sharansky into the Oval Office to meet with the President Reagan. And when the meeting ended, Mrs. Sharansky was told by the president I will not rest until your husband is free. Sharansky’s story has always inspired me from the day that Gordy first introduced me to Avital. But I don’t know how many of you here have ever read his book, “Fear No Evil.”
Natan wrote in that book, as I related to him, and he said, I’m glad that you saw it, that when they went to him in the prison, they wanted him to confess something. And they said to Natan, well, you understand that Galileo even confessed. And think about Sharansky sitting in that prison in that solitary confinement. And he thought to himself and told them you’re using Galileo against me? No one will ever use me any against any other prisoner of conscience. For that he deserves to always be remembered.
I had a phone conversation with Natan for years, but I never had the chance to meet him. And ironically, I met him at the cemetery when we laid Gordy Zacks to rest, where Natan gave a eulogy on behalf of our great friend. Look, I want it to be clear to all of you that I remain unwavering in my support for the Jewish state and the unique partnership between the United States and Israel.
AMERICAN SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL
When I was first introduced to Israel and some of its leaders, of course the core of our partnership with Israel was already very well- defined. And we give thanks to Harry Truman for the courageous steps he took when Israel was first established.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the notion that a United Nations resolution could solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, during a speech to the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC on Tuesday, March 22.
“The UN has a shameful record of singling out Israel for castigation and condemnation,” Netanyahu told the AIPAC conference, speaking via satellite from Jerusalem. “Why would anyone think that the UN could decide a fair and secure peace for Israel?”
Netanyahu sharply criticized those who “seek to impose terms on Israel in the UN Security Council,” arguing that “such efforts can only convince Palestinians that they can stab their way to a state. Not a state alongside Israel, mind you, but a state instead of Israel.”
He also expressed satisfaction that the presidential candidates who addressed the conference the previous evening all declared their opposition to any solutions to the conflict “imposed” by the United Nations.
Such a resolution “could kill the chances of peace for many, many years,” Netanyahu warned.
Netanyahu showed the audience a montage taken from Palestinian television children’s programs—what he referred to as “the daily pledge of allegiance of the Palestinian children”—which showed Palestinian children supporting violence against Israelis.
“What is your message to the Palestinian youth?” a woman asked a young Palestinian girl in the montage. The young girl brandished a knife and answered repeatedly, “Stab! Stab! Stab!”
“That little girl wasn’t born to hate, she was taught to hate,” Netanyahu said, arguing that incitement by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ political faction was driving the recent violence and perpetuating the conflict.
Netanyahu reiterated his willingness to immediately begin direct negotiations with Abbas for “two states for two peoples,” leading to the creation of “a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state.”
Netanyahu also addressed the threats posed by the Iranian government, referencing the recent Iranian ballistic missile test in which the missile was inscribed in Hebrew with the phrase: “Israel must be wiped out.”
“The writing is not on the wall,” Netanyahu quipped, “it’s on the missile.”
Netanyahu concluded by showing a clip of the testing of Israel’s Arrow 3 missile defense system, developed with significant U.S. support, thanking the United States for its efforts and warning Iran that “Israel will defend itself mightily.”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) spoke to AIPAC’s policy conference on Monday evening, March 21. He followed a raucous presentation by Donald Cruz, and one given earlier in the day by Hillary Clinton.
Cruz started his talk by correcting without naming Donald Trump. He said, “Let me say at the outset, perhaps to the surprise of the previous speaker, Palestine has not existed since 1948.” Point Cruz.
He continued by invoking the story of Purim, mentioning that Jews the world over will soon be reading the Megillah (Esther). He recounted that the evil Persian Haman described the Jews as “scattered and spread out.” The Talmud teaches us, Cruz explained, that when the forces for good are divided, evil can prevail. But when forces for good come together in unity, they can defeat tyrants. Do you see where this is going?
Cruz likened the time of Haman to the time in which we live. But he promised a near future in which Americans will come together, within the Republican party and across America.
Aware that he has a reputation as a divisive personality, Cruz hit hard on that issue of unity, unity within America and then, after November, between America and Israel. “America will stand with Israel and defeat radical Islamic terrorists,” Cruz told the crowd.
He also mentioned that his colleague, Senator Lindsey Graham, had hosted an event for him earlier in the day, “which should allay the doubts of anyone here that the god of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob can still do miracles,” eliciting a big guffaw.
As did both Clinton and Trump, Cruz mentioned the brutal murder of American Christian Taylor Force who was recently stabbed to death in Jaffa by a Palestinian Arab terrorist. Force was from Lubbock, Texas, so it was no surprise that Cruz mentioned him.
He used the tragedy to remind the audience that America and Israel are in the fight together against radical Islam. Sadly, not one of the candidates mentioned another American recently murdered in Israel, Ezra Schwartz. Schwartz was a Jewish teenager from Boston.
In his four years in the Senate, Cruz has initiated efforts to support Israel in various ways, and he mentioned several of them during his speech on Monday. One, a critical effort, was when he stood up to the U.S. State Department when it shut down Ben Gurion Airport during Operation Cast Lead, after a rocket from Gaza landed – harmlessly – a mile away.
Cruz had immediately called on the U.S. government to explain why it had imposed what he called an economic boycott on Israel, pointing out that the U.S. had not shut down the airspace in other hot war zones such as Pakistan, Afghanistan or even in the Ukraine, where a passenger airline had just been shot down by Russia.
When Cruz demanded that the Obama administration answer the question, the response he got was that his suggestion was ridiculous. Cruz then informed them that he would shut down every nomination to the State Dept. until it answered his question.
The closure of Israeli airspace was lifted within 36 hours, thanks at least in part to the action taken by Cruz.
Cruz pointed out that on one of his three trips to Israel, he visited a hospital in the north, where “Israel has treated more than a thousand Syrians, free of charge.”
He quoted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “Israelis use missile defense system to protect our citizens, while Hamas uses its citizens to protect its missiles to launch into his one mention of Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Clinton had sought to justify Hamas keeping its missiles in schools and hospitals by explaining that Gaza is very small and crowded.
Donald J. Trump, who said months ago that he intended to be “neutral” in the dispute between Israel and the Arabs who live in her midst and at her borders, spoke to the American Israel Political Action Council early this evening and sounded anything but neutral. In fact, he specifically denounced what he called “moral equivalence” between “Palestinian murderers” and their Israeli victims.
Trump fed the AIPAC audience pure red meat from the beginning of his speech to its end; this time there was no mistaking which side of the dispute between Arabs and Israelis the candidate was on.
The JewishPress.com will give you Trump’s words below, and they matter. But perhaps what is most important in this Trump address, and maybe any of them, is not the words but the theater. The atmosphere. The subtext. The body language. The tone of voice. All of those things convey Trump’s promise that, at last, we’re going to hear something from a politician that he actually means. Or at least the kind of thing one does not normally hear from a politician.
Nothing shows this better than the space between the text of Trump’s speech as released – the text written by his people, saying the things his people want him to say — and the text as Trump actually delivered it. That’s the one Trump held out to his audience as a revelation of what he really thinks. Not insignificantly, some of the biggest applause lines were the extemporaneous Trumpulations that came from the very bottom of his ego.
All the Trump tics were there in force – he repeatedly exhorted the audience to “believe me, buleeeeeve me,” and told them many times that he was winning. And he’s the best. And the most. Of whatever.
Trump even had the chutzpah, in a room filled with chutzpadik Jews, to inform his audience that — well, it depends on whether you want the prepared text or the text as delivered. The prepared text, up there on a teleprompter for the first time in recent memory for a Trump speech – was a claim surprising enough as written by his peeps: it had the candidate saying that “I’ve studied [the Iran deal] issue in greater detail than almost anybody.”
But as delivered, Trump’s claim was even less modest than that: Trump confidently told AIPAC that he, Donald Trump had, personally, studied the Iran deal “greater than anybody.” Okay then.
Trump began by telling his audience he wasn’t going to pander to them, as politicians do, but instead would “speak to you about where I stand on the future of American relations with our strategic ally, our unbreakable friendship, and our cultural brother, the only democracy in the Middle East, the State of Israel.”
After he got finished saying all of that non-pandering, Trump got down to business.
Trump spent quite a bit of time on Iran, saying he would dismantle the Iran deal; he would stand up to Iran’s aggressive push back to destabilize and dominate the region, that Iran has seeded terrorist groups all over the world, in twenty five countries on five continents including in the Western hemisphere, but that he would “totally dismantle Iran’s global terror network”; and “enforce the terms of previous deals” before the JCPOA came on the scene.
Trump’s discussion of the United Nations began by saying things everyone knows and no-one will say about the UN: that it is “not a friend of democracy, freedom, not even of the U.S. and surely is not a friend to Israel.”
Moving on to recently murmured threats from the Obama administration to support or even sponsor a Security Council resolution forcing Israel to yield to the Palestinian Arabs, Trump began by mentioning that this was happening “with President Obama in his final year.” And then, — not in the prepared text but in reality — he paused, and he smiled.
With a single word, Trump told AIPAC what he thinks of the fact that President Obama’s final year has finally come: “Yay.” His hands gave a downbeat and his voice said the word they way your middle schooler would say it when delivering the news that the 7th grade bully had moved to Alaska. Yay – as in, we all know this should make us happy, RIGHT? What a relief, ok?; Bye, seeya, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
But even more significant than the lilting tone of Trump’s yay was that, when he said those words – “President Obama in his final year” — the audience went absolutely wild. A shouting, standing O. And then Trump, taking his cue from the audience instead of the other way around, answered them: “Obama may be the worst thing to ever happen to Israel. Believe me. Bulleeeeve me.” None of that, by the way, was in the prepared text or in the teleprompter. It was just in Trump’s “very good brain,” as he described it just yesterday. This is the theater that matters, at least as much as, and maybe more than, the official words of the message.
And here was Trump’s only mention of the woman he hopes to defeat in November: Hillary Rodham Clinton. He wasn’t ambivalent on the subject, though he didn’t spend anywhere near as much time on her as she had on him. He dismissed her with a single categorical sentence: “Hillary and Obama have been a total disaster and have treated Israel very very badly.”
But now back to the official message. What President Obama was and is doing wrong with the UN, Trump told AIPAC, is allowing it, inviting it, helping it, “to impos[e] terms on Israel that Israel cannot and will not live with. Any agreement imposed by the United Nations would be a total and complete disaster, which the U.S. must oppose.”
Trump’s invocation of his deal-making skills is never far from the center of his sales pitch to America. But it is at the very heart of his discussion about the Middle East, because, he says whenever he discusses this subject, the peace agreement between Israel and the Arabs is “the hardest deal in the world to make.”
Trump brings his negotiating skills to bear: “for any deal, you need two willing participants. We know Israel is willing and has been trying without preconditions for years.” Here he recited the history, available for anyone who really wants to know, of the offers by various Israeli Prime Ministers which the Arabs completely rejected. Even more humiliating to the U.S., Trump said, Secretary of State Kerry “tried to come up with a framework” and that Palestinian Authority leader Abbas “didn’t even respond.”
He then said “the days of treating Israel as a second class citizen will end on my Day One.” Another wild standing O from AIPAC.
Trump also talked about what Arab “leaders” are teaching their children, and the impact of that education on the prospects for peace:
When you live in a society where the firefighters are the hero’s little kids want to be firefighters. When you live in a society where athletes and movie stars are heroes, little kids want to be athletes and movie stars. In Palestinian society, the heroes are those who murder Jews – we can’t let this continue. You cannot achieve peace if terrorists are treated as martyrs. Glorifying terrorists is a tremendous barrier to peace. In Palestinian textbooks and mosques, you’ve got a culture of hatred that has been fermenting there for years, and if we want to achieve peace, they’ve got to end this indoctrination of hatred. There is no moral equivalency. Israel does not name public squares after terrorists. Israel does not pay its children to stab random Palestinians.
More enthusiastic applause. And more after that, when he said that Hamas is the Palestinian ISIS.
Trump’s welcome insistence that Arab education of Arab children to hatred of Jews and Israel isn’t even good for the Arabs, never mind the Jews. If that’s true, then “neutrality” can benefit both Arab and Jew, if it leads the Arabs to stop destroying themselves while they try (and fail) to destroy the Jewish state.
One last point is the left-wing dog that did not bark. Yesterday’s news was the promise, or threat, by Rabbis for Human Rights, Eric Yoffe, and others to “shut down” Trump’s speech to AIPAC. But they did no such thing. To this reporter, carefully watching a live video of the event, there was not an audible peep from such people inside the hall. Apparently the “shut it down” movement was itself shut down. AIPAC’s record, of listening at least politely to the presentation by every serious candidate for President, remains intact. Polite Jews. Who’d a thunk it.
At least one American Jewish organization gave presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee the thumbs down. Although the audience applauded, Clinton’s ideas were retreads of tried and failed policies.
Clnton spoke during the day, on Monday, March 21 to AIPAC’s policy conference in Washington, D.C. Clinton is the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for President.
The Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump, is scheduled to speak during the late afternoon, early evening session, along with the other two candidates for the Republican nomination. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is speaking at 6:50 p.m. ET and Ohio Gov. John Kasich will also speak. Neither Trump nor Kasich had the AIPAC speech listed on their website campaign schedules.
The other Democrat running for the party nomination, Bernie Sanders, chose to skip the AIPAC event. That decision was sure to endear him to the many dozens of thugs, including Max Blumenthal – the son of Hillary Clinton’s long-time buddy and Israel policy adviser Sidney Blumenthal – protesting against Israel outside the convention center where the AIPAC policy conference is taking place.
Although Clinton was warmly received, the points she focused on as positives are hardly new, innovative or suggest a smooth road ahead for Israel should Clinton win the general election.
Clinton does not seem to realize that the Israeli people and a majority of the Israeli political spectrum has tired of the unending efforts to twist Israel’s arm to sit at the negotiating table with a Palestinian Arab leadership that rejects any movement forward, that only increases its demands, and that does so while glorifying the barbaric murder and maiming of Israelis.
Instead, Clinton proudly recounted her efforts to bring Israeli and Palestinian Arab leaders to the negotiation table.
She also appeared to be tone deaf to the widespread anger and dismay by nearly all Israelis and even nearly all mainstream Jewish and other pro-Israel organizations – including AIPAC – to the Nuclear Iran Deal.
She strongly defended the Iran deal, declaring that it has made “the United States, Israel and the world safer.”
One strong note she sang was a promise to rebuff efforts by outsiders – she said the United Nations, it is doubtful she also means the United States – to impose a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict.
The only victim of terrorism whom Clinton mentioned by name was Taylor Force, an American Christian who was stabbed to death earlier this month by a Palestinian Arab terrorist at the Jaffa port.
While there has been an enormous outpouring of grief by Israel and Israelis over Force’s murder, it would have been a reasonable gesture for Clinton to have also mentioned Ezra Schwartz, an American Jewish teenager who was murdered by a Palestinian Arab terrorist just months ago.
When Clinton mentioned Force, she used it to make a strong point, one for which she received huge applause and a standing ovation.
What she said was that the “attacks must end immediately and — Palestinian leaders need to stop inciting violence, stop celebrating terrorists as martyrs and stop paying rewards to their families!” But Clinton made no effort during her tenure as Secretary of State to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority which pays those rewards.
Although Clinton’s speech received generous applause, at least one Jewish group had little positive to say about it. In particular, the RJC noted that during Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, the relationship between Israel and the U.S. reached its lowest point.
This is the statement put out by the RJC’s executive director Matt Brooks:
Hillary Clinton’s rhetoric rings hollow. Actions speak louder than words and Hillary’s words can do little to paper over her disastrous tenure as Secretary of State. Under Secretary Clinton, the US-Israel relationship reached its lowest point and she supported the United States-brokered, ill-conceived and disastrous nuclear deal with Iran. At every turn when her actions could achieve real results and speak louder than words, Secretary of State Clinton chose instead to sit and do nothing. Pro-Israel voters have learned from painful experience that there is a difference between political speeches and governing priorities. Hillary Clinton has proven time and again that talk is cheap, and today was no different.
The National Jewish Democratic Council did not issue a statement either about Clinton’s AIPAC speech or about the AIPAC policy conference. The only statement of support by the NJDC for any of this year’s presidential contenders was one issued in February, praising Martin O’Malley, as a “true friend to the American Jewish community.” O’Malley suspended his campaign in February.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden blamed both Jews and Arabs Sunday night for the current terror wave wracking Israel, and the lack of peace with the Palestinian Authority.
Biden said in a speech to the annual gathering of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington that both sides lacked the political will to find peace.
The vice president said he has never been so pessimistic. “I didn’t walk away encouraged,” he said in the wake of his recent visit to the country. “The current prospects for peace are not heartening… There is no political will among Israelis or Palestinians to move forward at this moment with serious negotiations, and that’s incredibly disappointing.
Biden’s wife and grandchildren were meters away eating dinner on the beach when a Arab terrorist murdered a U.S. tourist and wounded nearly a dozen others during that visit.
He did criticize Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas for failing to condemn the terror attacks in Israel, tearing up as he spoke of bringing his late son’s Jewish children to the country of their heritage (their mother is Jewish).
One might have expected him to have a bit more clarity about the situation as a result of that experience. But apparently Biden learned nothing more than a greater need for peace – something Israel has sought since the signing of the declaration of independence in 1948.
The vice president insisted that both sides still had to do a little “show me” – a comment not well received by the audience.
He talked about the efforts by the Palestinian Authority and its supporters to secure sanctions against the Jewish State in various international forums, and pledged the United States would continue to block those moves.
But he also criticized the Israeli policy of “building settlements and seizing land.” The reference is to the process of legalizing land already designated in an international document as Israeli under Area C as state land, allowing existing Jewish communities to continue natural growth and letting families repair or add needed items to their homes within the boundaries of their properties.
“Israel’s government’s steady and systematic process of expanding settlements, legalizing outposts, seizing land, is eroding in my view the prospect of a two-state solution,” Biden said. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders have repeatedly pointed out that the conflict with Arab enemies long preceded the 1967 war, and has little or nothing to do with these areas. In fact, the Arabs themselves say it repeatedly in their harangues to their own people – in Arabic, of course – referring to the entire geographic area “from the river to the sea” as their own land.
Biden said these activities take Israel towards a “one-state reality, a reality that is dangerous.”
The vice president also attempted to convince those present that Israel should sign a military memorandum of understanding with the Obama administration prior to the elections.
“It will, without a doubt, be the most generous security assistance package in the history of the United States,” Biden said.