AIPAC, Trump and Civility Through the Eyes of a Teenager

I was woken up last week, early Tuesday morning to be told by television producers for the news program on which I was to appear that my segment had been postponed because of yet another round of unbearable and unfathomable terror in Europe. I am sickened and frightened; especially for the world in which my wife and I are raising our children. May we wisely work towards peace and maintain clarity of mind and spirit on our treacherous path forward.

I was particularly hesitant about this appearance on the news. In the divisive world in which we live, almost any opinion offered is construed as offensive. Indeed, besides the obvious and universal horror expressed about the tragedy in Belgium, the social media highways were filled otherwise with reaction to Donald Trump’s address to the AIPAC convention last Monday night in Washington D.C. There was a frenetic rush for everyone to offer their respective insights. I understand. It was a watershed moment which will go down as either famous or infamous, depending on our place on the political and Jewish spectrum.

I was in Washington for the conference, and I have a perspective also. But it is from the view of my 13-year old niece; perhaps, the point of view which should concern us the most. My sister-in-law was raised along with my wife to be committed to our country, its laws and its call to service. We are raising our children with that same sense of awareness and devotion to the United States and Israel. And so, my sister-in-law thought it appropriate to take my niece out of school to learn in the arena of the real world. I was proud. Three generations of my family took pictures with elected officials and my father-in-law fought back tears as he realized that the values he his had instilled to his children are continuing to manifest into reality.

And then Donald Trump gave his speech. I explained to my family that I would not join my colleagues whom I deeply respect, as they left the arena to study in protest. I saw it as an obligation to listen in person, as this man for whom I had already lost respect, attempted to navigate what I thought would be a skeptical crowd. And, I knew this was an important speech for Mr. Trump, as he attempts to pivot to general election mode. I also knew it was an imperative moment for the Jewish community. How would we react to a man who has spewed such overt words of bigotry, profanity and hate?

Posted on March 30, 2016

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