It has been two days since the convention of the Republican Jewish Coalition, thus two days since Donald Trump was asked whether Jerusalem should remain undivided and the capital of Israel. He is said to have remarked "I don't know that Israel has the commitment to make it," spurring Zeke Miller to observe "you can hear a pin drop."
Context is everything, or at least a lot, so it's difficult to determine whether the crowd believed that Trump wanted Israel's confidence to flag or that he merely expected it to occur. However, the thought process was clearer and less complicated when, as Scott Eric Kaufman wrote
Trump spoke about the infamous $43 million gas station in Afghanistan, asking the crowd, “How many of you think you could have done it for less?” His question was greeted with silence, so he moved on. “I’m a negotiator, like you folks,” he said while discussing what he considers to be the failures of the recent nuclear deal struck with Iran.
Rarely does a politician so explicitly reveal anti-Semitism (video, above), but then part of Trump's appeal always has been that of someone not a career politician. Further, Jews in the USA do not face the constant danger that the State of Israel does, nor do they- unlike Israel- confront forces determined to annihilate them.
The GOP candidates have kept silent about Trump's lukewarm remarks about Israel before the RJC., odd given that their comments about President Obama's policy in the region have included (from the first, second, and fourth debates respectively):
The president can’t tell you what we got. I’ll tell you what the world got. The world has a burgeoning nuclear power that didn’t, as the Soviets, say “we might defend ourselves in a war.”
What the Iranians have said is, “we will wipe Israel off the face of the map, and we will bring death to America.” When someone points a gun at your head and loads it, by God, you ought to take them seriously, and we need to take that seriously. (M. Huckabee)
You know, we turned our back on Israel, our ally. You know, and a situation like that, of course Obama’s not going to be able to do anything. I would shore up our military first, because if you don’t get the military right, nothing else is going to work. (B. Carson)
The next thing I intend to do is instruct the Department of Justice and the IRS to start (sic) persecuting religious liberty, and then intend to cancel the Iran deal, and finally move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. (T. Cruz)
As it relates to Iran, it’s not a strategy to tear up an agreement. A strategy would be how do we confront Iran? And, the first thing that we need to do is to establish our commitment to Israel which has been altered by this administration. And, make sure that they have the most sophisticated weapons to send a signal to Iran that we have Israel’s back. (JEB!)
If they don’t go with us, we slap the sanctions on anyway. If they fund these radical groups that threaten Israel and all of the West, then we should rip up the deal and put the sanctions back on. (J. Kasich)
On day one in the Oval Office, I will make two phone calls, the first to my good friend to Bibi Netanyahu to reassure him we will stand with the state of Israel. (C. Fiorina)
In the groups — in the countries of the Gulf states of Bahrain, the Cleveland Clinic is opening an operation. Clearly we see the same with them. And in Israel, we have no better ally in the world, and no more criticizing them in public, we should support them. (J. Kasich)
His calculation in the Middle East is that he has seen what this president has done, which is nothing, the president has no strategy, our allies in the region do not trust us. For goodness sake, there is only one pro-American free enterprise democracy in the Middle East, it is the state of Israel.
And we have a president that treats the prime minister of Israel with less respect than what he gives the ayatollah in Iran. And so our allies in the region don’t trust us. (M. Rubio)
However, it seems that when it comes to action, support for the tiny nation flags, inasmuch as
Democrats say there’s only one reason that pro-Israel language is not included in the revival of the Export-Import Bank: Mitch McConnell.
The Senate majority leader has been wary of Democratic maneuvering around Israeli politics, and he's recently warned that the minority party might attempt to “get well” with the Jewish community after they backed the nuclear accord with Iran.
Now, senators and Democratic leadership sources say McConnell is taking out his frustrations by rejecting a popular provision that would express the Senate’s support for Israel’s economy and undercut the pro-Palestine Boycott, Divestiture and Sanctions campaign. The provision, which has bipartisan support, had been targeted for inclusion in a larger transportation bill.
The news was delivered to Reid in a meeting with McConnell on Monday to game out the end of the year. Reid was furious upon learning that the pro-Israel language was being jettisoned, people close to him said.
The McConnell camp denies the accusation but
Two other Democratic senators blamed McConnell for blocking the language, which would require the Ex-Im Bank to consider whether applicants for loans oppose “policies and actions that are politically motivated" and meant to inhibit "commercial relations specifically with citizens or residents of Israel."
GOP candidates frequently use questions about Iran, Syria, or ISIL to declare their undying love for Israel. Of course, the uncompromising prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself probably is the object of their affection but the nation itself also garners their unequivocal support in public. That is, until Republican leadership has the opportunity to erode support for a rabidly anti-Zionist, (barely) arguably anti-Semitic, movement. They then go silent, demonstrating yet again there is little substantial difference between Donald Trump and the rest of the pathetic GOP presidential field.