Unprecedented” is the word the Washington Post is using for the apology issued by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee for the applause given to Donald Trump at its conference this week.
AIPAC is shocked — shocked — that The Donald criticized President Obama from the lobby’s stage. And that Trump’s jibe was greeted with a gleeful ovation from thousands of pro-Israel activists.
It happened when Trump was marking the betrayals by the United Nations, which, he said, is “not a friend of democracy, it’s not a friend to freedom.” It’s not even, he added, a friend to America or Israel.
“With President Obama in his final year — yay!” The Donald exclaimed. “He may be the worst thing to ever happen to Israel, believe me, believe me. And you know it, and you know it better than anybody.”
That’s what prompted AIPAC’s president, Lillian Pinkus, to apologize. “We are deeply disappointed,” she said, “that so many people applauded a sentiment that we neither agree with or condone.”
Forgive me, but the right word for AIPAC’s apology is “chickens - - -.” And it’s not just because Hillary Clinton’s address, with her jibes at Trump and other Republicans, was the most partisan speech at AIPAC.
It’s also because AIPAC has always been a stage for putting things into sharp relief. Of course President Obama isn’t literally the worst thing that’s ever happened to Israel (we Jews have had more than our portion of woe).
It’s hard, though, to think of a presidency as disappointing to Israel as Obama’s has been. Who, after all, was that “senior Obama administration official” who used “chickensh - - -” to describe Benjamin Netanyahu?
The insult was reported by The Atlantic not long before Netanyahu addressed a joint meeting of Congress. The magazine reckoned it marked the moment when, as its headline put it, “the crisis in US-Israel relations is officially here.”
No one is placing bets on this driving Jewish voters out of the Democratic Party and into the arms of the GOP.
The landscape is littered with erroneous predictions that Jews are going to start voting Republican, a fact that I’ve learned from personal experience in the newspaper line.
It’s not too soon, though, to say that we’re at a remarkable moment. Before Trump made his appearance at AIPAC, after all, there were warnings of all sorts of protests and walkouts.
In the event, the man who’s been endorsed by David Duke (and belatedly repudiated it) received a warm reception, marked by standing ovations. It prompted the editor of one Jewish newspaper, Jane Eisner of the Forward, to write that she was “ashamed.”
“The applause,” she wrote, “began after he uttered his very first sentence.” Soon some in the crowd were standing and clapping. “And, when he threw the red meat that he brilliantly feeds his other crowds, there were cheers as they gobbled it up.”
And no wonder. Trump railed against the articles of appeasement on which the Obama administration agreed with Iran. And this is not a Likud-versus-Labor thing. Both Netanyahu and the opposition’s Isaac Herzog opposed the pact with the ayatollahs.
As does every GOP candidate who addressed AIPAC this year, including Ted Cruz most forcefully. John Kasich declared that in the wake of Iran’s latest missile tests, he would suspend the agreement.
The only candidate at AIPAC who actually supports the Iran appeasement is Hillary Clinton. Her chutzpah is so thick that it could be carved up with a chain saw and used to make bomb shelters — a point well-marked in The Post’s editorial Wednesday.
At AIPAC, she warned against the Republicans. She said the GOP would give them a “glimpse of a potential US foreign policy that would insult our allies, not engage them, and embolden our adversaries, not defeat them.”
If AIPAC’s delegates seemed momentarily confused, it’s no doubt because they thought she was talking about herself again. Or the reset with Russia, the war she plumped for in Libya or her victories in Afghanistan.
No wonder Trump, Cruz and Kasich got so much applause. AIPAC knows deep down that the Democrats have been a disaster in foreign policy. If any apologies are owed, they’re by the Democrats — even if that would be “unprecedented.”
This article was published by the New York Post and may be found here.