How powerful is AIPAC? It did what no one else in America has come close to doing: It tamed the wild verbal beast of Trump. For nearly thirty minutes Monday night in front of close to 18,000 raving Israel fans at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., the Donald showed that he, too, can play politician – he read from a prepared speech. Sure, there was the odd ad lib, but compared to his usual rambunctious rambling, his performance Monday night was worthy of a High Holiday sermon delivered by a meticulous rabbi.
It was a speech perfectly crafted for the audience. A speech, in other words, full of red meat for Israel lovers deeply worried about the security of the Jewish state. He threw it all in – crushing Iran, pressuring the Palestinians, moving the embassy, taking on the UN, if it was good for Israel, he said it. There was a rumor in the press gallery that the Trumpster got smart and hired a decent speechwriter. Well, maybe the next Trump-related media obsession will be: Who was the mystery speechwriter?
After hearing for days that people were planning to protest his speech by booing or walking out, unless I missed something from the press row, I saw none of that. Of course, when you have thousands of people listening to what they want to hear, and cheering accordingly, good luck trying to get your high-minded boos in. It reminds me of when rabid Lakers fans were cheering wildly for Kobe Bryant while he was on trial for attempted rape. Being accused of a sexual crime is as bad as it gets, but hey, business is business: Lakers fans want their team to win!
Israel fans want Israel to win, too. I'm sure the great majority of people at the Verizon Center are repulsed by Trump's deeply offensive and unacceptable comments regarding Muslims, women, Mexicans and all the others he has offended during his wild ride to the top of the Republican nomination. I'm sure they realize that this behavior violates the profound Jewish values they cherish.
But at an AIPAC event, you see first hand that Israel trumps everything – even Trump, even Jewish values, even people planning to boo.
Clearly, Trump's speechwriter figured that out.
When the Donald said at the beginning of his speech, “I'm not going to pander because that's what politicians do,” he was the consummate politician.
He lied, or he exaggerated. You never know with politicians.
David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org