Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made a series of controversial comments about Israel last week to both the Associated Press (AP) and at the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC).
In response, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, spoke to Arutz Sheva about the attitude of Jewish American voters towards the outspoken candidate.
"I wasn’t actually at the speech at the RJC. However from what we understand the comments to be, we have developed a number of statements regarding what happened."
"Mr. Trump has a certain style as to how he approaches the campaign, one that no other candidate has taken, this fast and loose style of speech in their campaign. But as supporters of Israel, we are looking for a candidate, whether that is Mr. Trump or anyone else, who understands what Israel is up against, and who is ready without apology to be a strong ally and friend of Israel in the oval office."
Rabbi Cooper specifically addressed Trump avoidance of the Jerusalem issue. "I think the comment about Jerusalem is less disconcerting. If we take a look at all of the previous comments and statements made by politicians hopeful of obtaining the oval office, and to see no change whatsoever on a practical basis once they got into the oval office, I think the comment about Jerusalem is not so problematic."
Trump certainly set off fireworks last week with his comments stating that he wasn't sure whether or not Israel was committed to peace with the Palestinians. Cooper admitted that many people were upset with Mr. Trump due to these comments and many others that he has made in the past. "This is a man who has a certain style. And there are a lot of Americans who are upset at the kind of syntax that he uses."
Cooper hopes that Mr. Trump will use his upcoming visit to Israel to explain more fully what he meant by his comments at the RJC. "Trump will be visiting Israel soon which will allow Israelis to get a first hand feel for the kind of shorthand that he uses which has raised a lot of eyebrows and concern in the US. While Mr. Trump is never shy on sharing his viewpoints, and I hope that Mr. Trump takes the opportunity to address some of the question marks that were raised in what he said at the RJC."
According to Cooper there is no ill-will between Trump and the Jews in the US and chalked up Trump's comments to the use of political hyperbole rather than getting to the heart of the policy issues. "A lot of Jewish people know him in business and socially, he has a daughter who is an orthodox Jew. In lieu of everything else going on in the world especially with the recent terrorist attack in California, America has become a country that is also on edge. A lot of Americans would love to hear from all of the candidates more meat and less hyperbole."
"There are a lot of policy issues that the next president will have to deal with. While we are in the heat of the primary battle, with the media covering every word, he is getting a lot of coverage, but he is not really moving the dial forward. All of the discussions react to verbiage and don't get to the heart of the issues."
Cooper explained what he and other US voters want to hear from the candidates on both sides of the American political spectrum. "We want to hear from Trump and from Clinton and from everyone in between, what practical steps they will take to make everyone safer. To say you aren’t going to let any Muslims in, doesn’t cut it, it likely isn’t legal and it doesn’t address the issue. There are a lot of policy issues that the next president will have to deal with. While we are in the heat of the primary battle, with the media covering every word, statements like these get him a lot of coverage, but he is not really moving the dial forward."