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Why rabbis are planning to boycott Donald Trump’s AIPAC speech

Rabbis and AIPAC-goers are frustrated by what they find to be hateful rhetoric from Donald Trump.
Rabbis and AIPAC-goers are frustrated by what they find to be hateful rhetoric from Donald Trump.
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

According to Donald Trump, there is "no one more pro-Israel" than himself — a phrase he will likely repeat in his speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Monday evening.

But Trump's past statements on Israel have prompted rabbis and other AIPAC conference attendees to organize a walkout of the Republican frontrunner's AIPAC speech.

"We must let him speak but we are not obliged to listen," an AIPAC attendee said on the protest's organizing Facebook page, which has nearly 1,800 members.

"Our goal is not to disrupt the proceedings or to offend any of our fellow conference attendees. Our hope is to shine a moral light on the darkness that has enveloped Mr. Trump’s campaign," reads the description of the Facebook event, "Come Together Against Hate."

In an interview with Breitbart, Rabbi David Paskin, an organizer of the protest, said the walkout is a reaction to Trump calling Mexican immigrants rapists, most Muslims terrorists, and American Jews money-hungry negotiators.

"This is about denouncing hatred in all forms," Paskin told Breitbart. "Everyone here at AIPAC denounces hatred. ... We are going to continue to come together against hate. We are going to argue that what Mr. Trump calls PC, is not a bad thing, it is what we Jews call … being a good person."

Trump has been walking on shaky ground with pro-Israel Americans this presidential election cycle. While pledging general support toward Israel – a mainstay of Republican foreign policy – he has waffled on some of the specifics.

He said he would not move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and would remain "neutral" on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – two no-nos for the crowd at America's most prolific pro-Israel group (not to mention initially failing to disavow the support of former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke).

Trump's attempts to relate to the Jewish community have not always succeeded: He told the crowd at the Jewish Republican Coalition that they should relate to him on the basis of being good negotiators and because his daughter Ivanka Trump is married to a Jew.

While former AIPAC spokesperson and president of the Israel Project Josh Block told NPR that this will be an opportunity for Trump to refine his views on Israel and "pivot to a more serious approach on foreign policy," protest organizers are less keen to hear what Trump has to say.

According to the Facebook page, the protesters will be gathering outside the Washington, DC, Verizon Center at 5 pm during Trump's speech.

Code Pink and a Palestinian activist group are also expected to hold demonstrations, according to the New York Times.