If they do, it will be unfortunate for Israel and for American Jews.
AIPAC is an organization intended to lobby the US Congress and Executive branch in favor of Israel. It is not supposed to favor any political party, either in Israel or the US. Its objective is to promote the policies of the State of Israel.
For that reason, it has invited all the presidential candidates to speak at its convention. The goal is for both Americans who care about Israel and the candidates themselves to learn about each others’ concerns and attitudes. That will clearly benefit Israel.
AIPAC has had victories and defeats. But it is essential that Israel have a voice in Washington. Our enemies have powerful lobbies. We need one too.
In recent years, support for Israel in America has become more and more a partisan affair. This is not good for Israel, because the issue does not align with the liberal/conservative divide in US politics, and traditionally Israel had supporters on both sides. Making it partisan makes it subject to the same gridlock that affects so many issues today.
Although the administration and its friendly media blame PM Netanyahu, there is no doubt that this is part of the deliberate policy to fracture relations between Israel and the American people and Congress that has been in effect since President Obama’s inauguration in 2009 (if you aren’t sure who is to blame, just ask yourself who benefits from the poor relationship).
The threat of a walkout or other demonstration at AIPAC puts pressure on the organization to take a partisan stance (dis-inviting Trump, even if it has to dis-invite all the candidates, would be a highly partisan move). An actual demonstration sends the message that AIPAC is ‘supporting’ Trump by letting him speak.
The actions of the Reform movement have already damaged AIPAC, and therefore hurt Israel. But this is less important to the leaders of the Reform Movement than the need to strike a blow against Trump. Rabbi Yoffie admits it:
Might protests at AIPAC hurt Israel’s cause? They might. Will an ongoing, organized Jewish effort to battle Trump’s bigotry adversely impact Jewish security and well-being in America? If Trump is elected President, it could. But no matter.
The Reform Movement has already demonstrated its willingness to push Israeli concerns aside to serve its own goals. It refused to take a position on the pernicious nuclear deal with Iran in order to stay on the good side of its friends in the Obama Administration. Now it wants to sabotage AIPAC.
Here is news for Rabbis Yoffie and Jacobs: although you believe it will be Gotterdammerung if Trump is elected, life over here will go on. Israel needs to continue to deal with the US administration no matter who is elected. You are not doing us a favor by using AIPAC for your political purposes.
If you want to demonstrate against Trump, fine. Go to Trump rallies and protest, organize your own anti-Trump groups. Buy full-page ads in the NY Times. Give interviews to NPR. Vote against Trump in primaries. Vote for Hillary or Bernie in the general election.
Just leave AIPAC out of it.