The following declared or potential presidential candidates refused to speak at this year’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference: Democrats Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand and independent Howard Schultz.

I’m not a fan of AIPAC, but much has been made about Jews “controlling” American politics, which is an anti-Semitic lie.

All candidates and speakers, both liberal and conservative, in Israel and the U.S. are invited to speak and do so. These candidates, by their actions, give legitimacy to this anti-Semitic canard that Jews, using their money, control the world; that American Jews owe their allegiance to a foreign power, Israel, and that this nefarious lobby prevents criticism of Israel.

Other interests have lobbying groups: Arab-Americans, real estate, the health and drug industry, pro-life, evangelicals, Southern Baptists and so on. This kind of behavior allows autocrats, like President Trump, to grab onto this issue and make the absurd claim that the Democratic Party is both anti-Israel and anti-Jewish.

This leads me to another issue. I’ve become increasingly concerned about actions, mostly by the left, preventing people, many of whom are liberals, who don’t agree with them from presenting their views.

Of particular note has been the shutting down of different viewpoints on university campuses and the weak responses by the administration, other students and faculty. This idea of “trigger warnings,” “safe spaces” and “microaggressions” has become absurd. Educational institutions are places that should challenge our preconceived ideas, not affirm them or celebrate them. Physical safety, of course; intellectual safety, not at all.

Given a history of individual and institutionalized discrimination and oppression, I understand the impulse behind the creation of affinity groups. However, no one has explained to or shown me how we come together after we have gone into our tribal groups. It seems like the goal is to vent and demand an apology from others.

Joseph Kleinman


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