Donald Trump gets standing ovation at AIPAC
Many Israeli and Jewish commentators watched anxiously as the Republican hopeful was met with applause at the the Israel lobby summit (AFP / Nicholas Kamm)
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After a bombastic and enthusiastically pro-Israel speech, Donald Trump received a standing ovation at yesterday’s annual conference for AIPAC, the flagship organisation advocating for Israel in the United States.
Reading for the first time from a teleprompter, the Republican Presidential candidate slammed President Obama’s record on Israel, pledged to destroy the Iran Deal and committed to being a "friend" to Israel – backing up his points with evidence that showed, at best, a generous attitude to accuracy.
Many observers have called the AIPAC appearance Trump’s first serious political speech – and a turning point in the politician’s bid to become President. Others pointed out that the response to it could deepen faultlines between right and left in Israel and the global Jewish community, already split on issues like the Iran deal and policies toward Palestine.
The fact that Trump spoke at AIPAC at all was divisive from the start, and some attendees walked out before he started talking.
People are walking out as Trump enters. Can see them at all the exits. Most remain seated.— Yair Rosenberg (@Yair_Rosenberg) 21 March 2016
But as the speech progressed – and Trump’s clipped, bombastic delivery with it – the crowd’s enthusiasm grew.
AIPAC crowd loving this.. Eating it up like hot lukshen kugel #PC16— Jacob Kornbluh (@jacobkornbluh) 21 March 2016
AIPAC people are fucking loving them some Trump. On their feet, laughing, applauding, yelling. I think he's won them over.— Adam Kredo (@Kredo0) 21 March 2016
Some commentators started watching the speech expecting to mock Trump – but became increasingly alarmed as his speech progressed:
The Donald is up!— Lisa Goldman (@lisang) 21 March 2016
This is a very scary and dangerous man.— Lisa Goldman (@lisang) 21 March 2016
Others pointed out that while the speech might have gone down well with the AIPAC crowd – a group generally to the right of the spectrum – it would alienate Israelis and American Jews on the political left.
I may be wrong, but don't think this will go over well with large swaths of US Jewry. Bonanza for J Street?— Chemi Shalev (@ChemiShalev) 21 March 2016
Other Republican nominees spoke at the conference yesterday, as well as Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton, who slammed Trump for commiting to "neutrality" on the issue of Israel and Palestine. Bernie Sanders, Hilary's rival, did not attend the AIPAC conference.
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