Much is being made of the applause that Obama received at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). I think this needs to be explained, or at least put into some context.
AIPAC is generally an orgy of applause and cheering for anyone and everyone who addresses the appreciative audience. It is the one place where Jews can congregate and hear wonderful, exultant praise of Israel (outside of the constant campaign of anti-Israel propaganda). And the AIPAC rank and file love the respite from the lies and the smears. They will cheer anything. Seriously. Mention that grilled chicken will be served in the cafe downstairs and you’ll get a huge round of applause. 25,000 carrots had to be brought to garnish the salads to feed 10,000 attendees. That, too, gets a hand. This is a happy group.
Case in point: Monday morning, the functionary Howard Kohr, AIPAC’s Executive Director, received a standing ovation. Need I say more? When the janitor comes in to clear away the tables, he’ll get a hand, too.
A number of AIPAC notables were warmly received despite the idiocy of what they said. Steny Hoyer was the first politician to speak Sunday, and while strongly supportive of Israel, his idiotic insistence on a two-state solution was only met by more idiocy: a round of rousing applause. What delusional mental acrobatics must be engaged in to imagine a Philistine state living in peace and harmony with Israel. Hoyer talked out of both sides of his mouth. No support or tolerance for extremists or terrorists, but let’s give the savages a state.
Nevertheless, the response to Obama’s appearance was tempered. (My take on his speech is here.) Obama was not cheered. Yes, they applauded and they stood when he backpedaled on his borders comment (he said it, but “I didn’t mean that”). But I will tell you that it was nothing like the response that George W. Bush got, or that John Bolton and Dick Cheney received in previous years. The people never sat down during those rousing speeches. They raised the roof. When Eric Cantor spoke the hall shook. Literally, the applause was thunderous, clearly reflecting what AIPAC’s members are really thinking.
This AIPAC conference is the largest-attended ever, with over ten thousand people. Over 1500 students came from across the country and around the world, and 215 student government presidents were there as well. But the hall did not shake for Obama. There was no huge outpouring of support. When he walked back some of his scary rhetoric, they appreciated it. A guy who was sitting next to me shushed me when he didn’t like my remarks, so I shushed him every time he applauded. It was like that.
Earlier, I took my place in a two-and-a-half hour line to see Obama — a line of polite, erudite and lovely people. It was good and nourishing to see so many concerned Jews, coming to get activated. When I remarked to the two gentlemen in front of me, who had just gotten in from California, that the schmeckle should be heckled, I was warned that anyone heckling was to be removed immediately. Everyone had been warned. And I thought, How ridiculous.
It takes some people a very long time to figure out that they have been kicked in the teeth, and that they are getting kicked in the teeth. It seems impossible, but Jews simply do not comprehend what is being done to them, and what is being done to Israel. It is as though they are liberals/socialists first, Democrats second, and Jews dead last. German Jews thought themselves to be Germans before they were Jews.
In a world that did not perceive Jews as Jews, first, last and always, this might not be such a major intellectual failing, but in this world, it is suicidal. They simply do not comprehend what they see when they look down and see someone sawing off their leg with a dull saw.