In Sophocles’ play, Oedipus at Colonus, and the later Brooklyn rendition of it as Gospel at Colonus starring the Blind Boys of Alabama, Oedipus is blind and near the end of his life. He comes to Colonus near Athens with three children to make peace.
Did AIPAC have its own “Come to Colonus” this week at its annual policy conference in Washington, DC?
It hosted not three children, but four: Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, John Kasich, and Hillary Clinton. Bernie, the only candidate who actually once resided in Israel gave a not-so-pro-Israel speech in Utah that probably would have been delivered via video at the conference had it been allowed (see below).
Just as Oedipus killed his father and married his mother, I felt as if AIPAC’s members’ treatment of Hillary and praise of Trump was akin to murdering their supporters who are not members of the GOP and marrying their nightmare.
Clinton mentioned Elie Wiesel, Mordechai, Golda Meir and Queen Esther in her speech. But she said Pyurim instead of Purim. One AIPAC MC used this flaw as a punch line in a national telecast (he was also a tad misogynistic). I would like to see him pronounce Davali, Diwali and Holi properly.
More hurtful was the praise heaped upon Trump and the cheers for his pandering statements and insults of President Obama.
Sure, I know that “haters are going to hate.” The national live-viewership that heard many of AIPAC’s 17,000 supporters cheer Trump will hate them and Israel no matter what was said. This is not going to change any of their minds. But one would have hoped that the attendees would have had enough sekhel to just listen and not stand in an ovation.
AIPAC trotted out Hispanics, Christians, and two entrepreneurs from Nazareth to perform and support pro-Israel attitudes… you would think AIPAC could have orchestrated the Presidentail candidates’ speeches and the audience responses a little better (wink wink.. did you catch the hidden message by one of the Israeli-Arab Technion-grad entrepreneurs who mentioned how he couldn’t get an engineering job in Israel as an Arab, so he therefore had to start his own healthcare tech firm?).
The morning after Trump’s speech, without the national televised audience, the new president of AIPAC – which is nonpartisan – rebuked Donald Trump and scolded him for his harsh comments about President Obama and the audience’s response.
Lillian Pinkus said, “Last evening, something occurred which has the potential to drive us apart, to divide us. We say, unequivocally, that we do not countenance ad hominem attacks, and we take great offense against those that are levied against the president of the United States of America from our stage. While we may have policy differences, we deeply respect the office of the United States and our president, Barack Obama. There are people in our AIPAC family who were deeply hurt last night, and for that we are deeply sorry.” She added that AIPAC was, “disappointed that so many people applauded a sentiment that we neither agree with or condone.”
I am reminded of Mordechai message to Queen Esther, who thought she was safe in a palace, close to power. He said to Esther, “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” I am glad the new leadership of AIPAC spoke out against Trump and his supporters. Trump is akin to King Ahasuerus in the Book of Esther. He says what is expeient to retain power. Hate Mexico, Love Mexico. Hate Christie, Love Christie. Hate Muslims, Accept them. Shun violence, Embrace violence. Like Esther, we can’t remain silent.
In other news, NPR (formerly National Public Radio) sends some of its reporters to Trump Training, a 90 minute class in hostile-environment awareness traing (HEAT) .