Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher write in Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money and Power (2016), Jew should not be surprised at what occurred in the Tree of Life Synagogue. The road to this massacre began at Donald Trump's appearance at AIPAC in 2016 as a candidate. Kranish and Fisher posit that thousands of Jewish activists gathered for Trump's long-awaited speech to AIPAC on his approach to the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate. Dozens of rabbis and others had announced plans to boycott the event, both because Trump had pledged to be “neutral” in talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and because Trump's call to ban Muslims from entering the United States struck many Jews as a frightening echo of the policies that their own parents and grandparents had faced in Europe.
Even though Trump's daughter Ivanka had married an Orthodox Jew and converted to Judaism, the candidate had alienated many Jews with comments at a Republican Jewish Coalition meeting where he said he might not win the support of many in the room because he did not want their money. Trump said he was best-positioned to get a Middle East peace deal because he's a negotiator, “like you folks.”
Trump had some repair work to do. He took no chances. Though he'd said that Teleprompters should be banned on the campaign trail, he now used one, his eyes darting from one screen to the other. This time, he was squarely on Israel's side. He railed against the Palestinians' demonetization of Jews. He reminded the crowd that he'd lent his personal jet to New York mayor Rudy Giuliani when he visited Israel weeks after the 9/11 attacks that he'd been grand marshal of the Israel Parade in New York in 2004, at the height of violence in the Gaza Strip. He made sure everyone noted that Ivanka would soon give birth to a “beautiful Jewish baby.”
But before Trump's speech won repeated standing ovation, at the start of his remarks, six rows from the stage, one rabbi wearing a Jewish prayer shawl stood up and shouted in solitary protest, “This man is wicked. He inspires racists and bigots. He encourages violence. Do not listen to him.”
Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, who leads an Orthodox congregation in Washington, did not rise out of any passion of the moment. He had wrestled with this decision for days. He consulted with his own mentor rabbi, with his lawyer, with his wife and seven children. He told his kids that he felt obliged to say something, “to say 'we know who you are, we see through you.”
His children asked him not to stage his protest because he might get hurt, but Herzfeld concluded that he had no choice. He knew he would lose members of his synagogue (and he did). He knew he would be accused of taking an inappropriately political stance (and he was). But he had concluded that Trump posed “an existential threat to our country.
I've never seen this type of political figure in my life. He's shameless in inspiring violence. He used vile language about people from other countries. He's open a space for ugliness to come out of the shadows.”
Herzfeld was immediately ushered out of the area and Trump continued speaking without incident.
WARNINGS FROM HISTORY FOR THE PRESENT
Avraham Burg in The Holocaust Is Over; We Must Rise From Its Ashes (2008), as an Israeli has issued several jeremiads to American Zionist on its longing for a mythical past and trying to undue the holocaust effect on the American Jewish political mindset.
Burg declares that the Shoah (Holocaust) changed the course for American Jews. From apathy of enormous potential toward becoming the rightful heirs of pre-war European, especially German, Jewish creativity, the Shoah narrowed the field of vision of American Jews. Anyone who follows the statements and actions of American Jewish leaders and organizations today would be unable to find anything that resembles Julian Morgenstern's great spirit of universalism.