On the day when Republican frontrunner Donald Trump will speak at the annual conference of the American Israel Political Action Committee conference, a prominent Jewish organization delivered a sharp blow to him. On March 20, the Anti-Defamation League announced that it will “redirect” contributions it has received from Trump in previous years. ADL was quoted in an article published by TIME Magazine that the money will go to “anti-bias education programs that address exactly the kind of stereotyping and scapegoating he has injected into this political season,” while urging like-minded groups to do likewise.
ADL chief executive Jonathan Greenblatt said, “Our history, our faith and our values teach us that we cannot sit idly by when others are singled out for derision and when intolerance is fed.” Greenblatt commended Trump for his previous charitable contributions but said that ADL has reconsidered them "in light of how Trump has changed."
The ADL was founded a century ago to combat anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance. Greenblatt said that Trump has a “penchant to slander minorities, slur refugees, dismiss First Amendment protections and cheer on violence” that has led Jews to reconsider their position about his candidacy. “The Jewish community has long placed a premium on promoting values of tolerance and building a pluralistic and more diverse society — values that seem at odds with Trump’s message on the campaign trail,” he wrote. “We are taking this step to demonstrate that, even as the campaign has surfaced ugly rhetoric, we can reach higher.”
In Washington D.C., AIPAC is holding its annual conference where Trump is scheduled to speak, in addition to presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton. In the past, the conference has featured personal appearances by President Barack Obama and Israeli premiers such as Benjamin Netanyahu.
On the matter of U.S.-Israeli relations, Trump has said that while he is “neutral” with regard to the ongoing conflict with the Palestinian Authority, he has asserted that no one is more supportive of the state of Israel than himself. On ABC’s “This Week”, Trump said on March 20 “There is nobody more pro-Israel than I am," adding, "I think making a deal would be in Israel's interests. I'll tell you what, I don't know one Jewish person that doesn't want to have a deal, a good deal, a proper deal, but a really good deal.”
Some leaders of the Jewish community in the U.S., which has traditionally voted for Democrats, have expressed concern that Trump’s rhetoric has instigated hostility to minority groups. According to a report in The Washington Post, some are concerned about his apparent praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his call for limiting the number of Muslims entering the country.
Protesters associated with Reform Judaism are expected at today's AIPAC conference. Among them will be 40 rabbis. A spokesman for the Trump campaign, lawyer Michael Cohen, denounced the group last week.
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