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.Lori Lowenthal Marcus