Trump Continues to Boggle the Mind

President Donald Trump last week asked Israel to "hold back" on settlement construction. Trump also said "the Israelis have to show they really want to make a deal," and while saying that the parties themselves must directly negotiate an agreement, he said that other Arab countries would be invited to help with negotiations "to make it easier on the Palestinians." I wonder if that's what our Republican friends expected.

Does Trump understand what a one-state solution is? David Horowitz writes that  "an American president on Wednesday told the world he really does not mind if there is only a single state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River -- a development that would represent the collapse of Zionism, of a Jewish, democratic state for the Jewish people in their ancient homeland."

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) is right: "support for a negotiated two-state solution is the best and the only way to ensure Israel's security and continuity as a Jewish, democratic state. By casually and flippantly suggesting the United States may pursue a two-state, one-state, or some other path to ending this conflict, President Trump makes the pursuit of a solution more difficult, and ultimately puts the long-term security of Israel at risk."

But Trump's statement might be less of a policy shift and more of just a stupid offhand thing Trump said without understanding what he was talking about. Someone recently pointed out that Trump would have said the same thing if he were asked about a five-state solution. The Palestinians will not settle for less than their own state, and Israel needs a two-state solution for its own sake, so as a practical matter, "the one they like best" has to be a two-state solution. Indeed, the day after Trump's comments, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said "we absolutely support the two-state solution."

Why won't Trump condemn anti-Semitism? Trump cannot seem to give a straight answer on anti-Semitism.  On Wednesday, Trump dodged a question about anti-Semitism by talking about his Electoral College victory.

On Thursday, Trump brushed off a Haredi reporter's question about anti-Semitism. The transcript doesn't fully capture Trump's arrogance and disdain. Watch the video of Trump accusing an Orthodox Jewish reporter of lying and of asking an insulting question

Rabbi Jack Moline makes a great point: "Trump aimed a constant accusation at President [Barack] Obama and Hillary Clinton during the campaign -- that they were not willing to name radical Islamic terrorism for what it is ... Why, then, has it seemed impossible for the President to use the word 'anti-Semitism' in commemorating the Holocaust or responding to friendly questions about the legacy he wants to create as the leader of the free world?"

The Anti-Defamation League said on Thursday that "On two separate occasions over the past two days, President Trump has refused to say what he is going to do about rising anti-Semitism or to even condemn it. It is mind-boggling why President Trump prefers to shout down a reporter or brush this off as a political distraction. This is not a partisan issue. It's a potentially lethal problem -- and it's growing."

The American Jewish Committee called Trump's refusal to address anti-Semitism "worrisome and puzzling," and asked Trump to "use your bully pulpit not to bully reporters asking questions potentially affecting millions of fellow Americans, but rather to help solve a problem that, for many, is real and menacing." The NJDC also condemned Trump's failure to condemn anti-Semitism.

A top Trump adviser wears a Nazi medal. I really thought/hoped this was a hoax, but it's real. Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka defended Trump's omission of Jews from his Holocaust Remembrance statement and wears a Nazi medal.

Why won't Republicans condemn Trump? Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) writes that she is "deeply disappointed by how few of my Republican colleagues have condemned the Trump administration's indefensible actions, and by how many of them have called the omission of Jews from a statement about the Holocaust merely a 'gaffe.' Even worse, Republican leadership continues to block a vote on a resolution I co-sponsored that would declare Jews the primary victims of the Holocaust."

This is why "voting the person, not the party" is such an empty cliche, especially at the federal level, where party affiliation is the single best predictor of how a member of Congress will vote. You would think that a House resolution acknowledging that Jews were the primary victims of the Holocaust would win overwhelming bipartisan support, but not one Republican supports it. And so far, not one Republican has signed on to co-sponsor legislation that would effectively prevent Steve Bannon from serving on the National Security Council. Why? Because party loyalty trumps everything (pun, sadly, intended).

Our Republican friends don't seem too concerned about Trump's call on Israel to halt settlement construction, which means they've either come to see the wisdom of President Obama's approach to settlements or that they never meant or understood the criticism they leveled at President Obama for his position on settlements. So does their silence indicate new-found wisdom or old-fashioned hypocrisy?

For those keeping score at home, since taking office last month, Trump has broken his promise of no daylight between the U.S. and Israel, waffled on his promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, omitted Jews from his Holocaust Remembrance statement, left Israel off a list of allegedly underreported terrorist incidents, repeatedly refused to condemn anti-Semitism, and employed an adviser who wears a Nazi medal. And our Republican friends are quiet about all of this. But when the other guy was president, putting his feet on his desk was enough to drive them apoplectic.

The Senate should reject David Friedman. He is not fit to be U.S. ambassador to Israel. At his hearing on Thursday, he expressed a lot of regret but no apologies, even as he recanted every strongly held belief he had in his attempt to curry favor with skeptical senators. 

The NJDC opposes his nomination, and five former U.S. ambassadors to Israel deemed Friedman "unqualified." The New York Times said that by choosing Friedman, Trump "has displayed a dangerous ignorance of or indifference to the land mines across the Middle East. The Senate has the responsibility to protect Mr. Trump and the country from taking this reckless step."

Sign up for Steve Sheffey's Pro-Israel Political Updates here.