WASHINGTON, D.C. (Christian Examiner) – In an address to the Republican Jewish Coalition on Dec. 3, Presidential candidate Donald Trump joked about Jewish stereotypes and was booed by the audience for avoiding a question about Jerusalem.
When the moderator asked him whether he supported the position that Jerusalem was the undivided capital of Israel, Trump balked at agreeing, for which the audience booed him.
"Do me a favor, just relax, okay? You'll like me very much, believe me," Trump said to those who booed.
Paul R. Pillar, a former CIA analyst, observed on his blog at The National Interest, "But what Trump said on this subject [Jerusalem] went over like a lead balloon in the particular room in which he was speaking."
"I'm a deal maker," Trump said, speaking of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. "I believe that I can put both sides together." He said he could "close the deal," or accomplish peace, between the parties in six months or sooner.
At the same time, Trump strongly implied Israel was unmotivated to make a deal. "I don't know that Israel has the commitment to make it [a peace agreement], and I don't know the other side has the commitment to make it," the businessman said, saying he will "give it his best" and "it would be great if that deal could be made."
"It seems to be at the very least a yellow light," said Middle East expert David Rubin about Trump's words, according to OneNewsNow.
Regarding Trump's implication that Israel was unwilling to negotiate, Pillar said, "The current right-wing Israeli government has repeatedly indicated its preference for holding on to the territories rather that making a peace agreement that would involve yielding some of that land and making possible a Palestinian state."
A DEAL MAKER, A NEGOTIATOR
Trump agreed that Israel had "given a lot" and did not always receive credit for what it had given.
"If Candidate Trump is truly fortunate, he won't get to be President Trump and will be spared the failure and humiliation of having to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Aaron David Miller, a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, wrote in an opinion on Foreign Policy.
"Neither his [Trump's] temperament and his view of negotiations, or his foreign policy interests seem to be well suited to dealing with that challenge," Miller added.
Trump got some laughs from the audience by joking about stereotypes and negotiation but was booed for some of his policy statements.
"I know why you're not going to support me — because I don't want your money," Trump told the Republican Jewish Coalition audience, a remark for which he has been criticized. "You want to control your own politician."
Rubin said voters should be "very careful" about candidates' statements about Israel, calling Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, and Marco Rubio "a little more consistent" than Trump in supporting Israel.
"A visitor who wandered into the room who did not otherwise know which country's election campaign was in progress would have surmised that the candidates were running for president of Israel rather than president of the United States," Pillar wrote.