The recent dispute between the Israeli government and U.S. officials preparing President Trump’s upcoming foreign tour has irked even one of Trump’s staunchest supporters in the Jewish world.
“I said a few weeks ago that we’ve gone from the most anti-Israeli president, Obama, to Donald Trump, the most pro-Israeli president, but I think I spoke too soon,” the national president of the Zionist Organization of America, Morton Klein, told the Forward on Monday.
“Trump will have to explain all these hostile statements toward Israel” once he arrives in the Jewish state, Klein added.
Reports emerged on Monday that Trump officials had told the Israelis that the holy site is “not your territory. It’s part of the West Bank.” Klein called the incident “an extraordinary outrage.” (The White House later issued a statement saying that the Western Wall comments were “not authorized communication and they do not represent the position of the United States and certainly not of the president.”)
Klein, who opposes a two-state solution and supports Israeli settlements in the West Bank, said the Western Wall affair is yet another instance in a growing list of wrong decisions by the Trump administration regarding Israel.
These include Trump reneging on his promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, inviting Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas to the White House, and nominating James Mattis as Secretary of Defense and Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, both of whom are seen by him as unsympathetic to Israel.
The ZOA leader specifically mentioned Tillerson’s use of the term “Palestine,” which Klein said sent a message to the Arab world “that this administration is biased to their side.”
Klein was among the first in the Jewish world to embrace Trump, and invited White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon to a ZOA gala dinner.
On Israel, Is Trump Losing The ZOA’s Morton Klein?
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, was the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.