Walk Out Or Stay?

Walk Out Or Stay?

Many of us who attended the AIPAC conference last week grappled with the dilemma of whether to attend or walk out on Donald Trump’s speech, given that he has espoused bigoted and divisive statements (“Wrong Takeaway For Trump,” Editorial, March 25).

I spoke with a number of people at the policy conference and solicited their opinions and asked what they planned to do. I was amazed that regardless of who I spoke with and what their personal position was, each expressed respect for the other side. 

When I spoke privately to leaders of AIPAC, expecting to hear from them why I should not walk out, they responded with a courteous, “You need to do what you think is right.” And when I sought to understand the other side, and spoke with rabbis who were organizing the protest, and expected them to try to encourage and pull me to their side, they responded in a similar fashion, and said, “This is what I am doing, but I cannot tell you what to do.”

I was genuinely surprised and pleased to see what could be a model for discourse in the Jewish community when disagreeing on issues of conscience.  I encountered a sincere respect for the integrity of the other side.

In the end I decided that since Trump had been invited to address the conference I should stay so I could hear what he had to say. Even though the hall was dark and there were thousands of people at the Convention Center, and no one other than those right next to me would have noticed, I did not stand or applaud his comments.  It was my small protest of showing how I feel about the way in which he has pursued the highest office in the country and to show respect for the two opposing views about how to treat a divisive figure — by not allowing him to divide us.   

Congregation B’nai Tzedek, Potomac, Md.


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