Trump Cancels Israel Visit After Uproar Over His Comments

11 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

GOP preparing for contested convention.

Republican officials and leading figures in the party’s establishment are now preparing for the possibility of a brokered convention as Donald Trump continues sit atop the polls and the presidential race.GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump canceled plans Thursday to visit Israel, a trip for which even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — widely seen as an ally of the Republican Party — had shown little enthusiasm.

That was a key takeaway when 29 self-described Trump supporters huddled in Alexandria, Va., on Wednesday night to field an array of questions about Trump, the billionaire businessman turned Republican presidential front-runner.As of this writing, more than 450,000 people in the United Kingdom have responded in kind to Donald Trump’s call for banning Muslims from entering the U.S. (and to other comments of his, including that parts of London are so rife with Islamic extremists that police are terrified to patrol them): They’ve called for a blanket ban of their own—on all Donald J.Former basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has harshly criticized presidential hopeful Donald Trump for anti-Muslim rhetoric that, Abdul-Jabbar says, plays right into the hands of terrorists. More than 20 of them convened Monday for a dinner held by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, where the prospect of Trump nearing next year’s nominating convention in Cleveland with a significant number of delegates dominated the discussion, according to five people familiar with the meeting. Among the participants, support for Trump grew over the hour and a half they answered questions about Trump’s temperament and insults he’s lobbed at rivals and the media, mirroring the pattern of deepening support for him over the life of his candidacy.

A new Rasmussen Reports survey released Thursday finds that 66 percent of likely Republican voters favor a temporary ban on all Muslims entering the United States until the federal government improves its ability to screen out potential terrorists from coming here. Trumps entering the U.K. “The UK has banned entry to many individuals for hate speech,” declares the petition on the British Parliament’s website. “The same principles should apply to everyone who wishes to enter the UK. In a piece published by Time magazine, where he is a columnist, Abdul-Jabbar likened Trump to a lynch mob agitator, a “James Bond super-villain,” a schoolyard bully, a birthday party clown and the sinister “rough beast” from W.B. Because of the sensitivity of the topic — and wary of saying something that, if leaked, would provoke Trump to bolt the party and mount an independent bid — Priebus and McConnell were mostly quiet during the back and forth.

Trump has further clarified his views, telling ABC News that his idea was not about religion, but about “safety.” Meanwhile, Democratic frontrunner Hilary Clinton weighed in on the proposal, telling her fans at a campaign stop Wednesday, “It’s not only shameful, it’s dangerous,” adding, “We have to enlist help from American Muslims, Muslims around the world in defeating the radical jihadists and the hateful ideology they represent.” But Americans are watching. On Wednesday, boxing great Muhammad Ali — one of the United States’ most famous Muslims — issued a statement defending Islam and chastising those “who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda.” While the former boxing champion did not mention Trump by name, the title of his statement — “Presidential Candidates Proposing to Ban Muslim Immigration to the United States” — clearly pointed in the direction of the GOP front-runner. It amounts to a nuclear option the longstanding frontrunner likes to trot out — a finger dangling over a red button — when the GOP closes ranks against him, as they did this week when he proposed banning all Muslim travel to the U.S. At the start of the night, 10 people said they were at nine or 10, noted David Merritt, managing director of Luntz Global, a political firm led by longtime Republican strategist Frank Luntz, who conducted the focus group.

The dispute poses a set of thorny questions that many democracies struggle mightily with: What distinguishes free speech from hate speech, and what should the government’s role be in making that distinction? But near the end, McConnell and Priebus did acknowledge to the group that a deadlocked convention is indeed something the party should prepare for, both institutionally at the RNC and politically at all levels in the coming months. Some of his other comments were seen by some as promoting Jewish stereotypes. “The situation in Israel is particularly volatile, and so I think in this case, his decision to reconsider that trip is a good outcome for all of those involved,” Earnest added.

And then, even if a government determines that someone is engaging in a form of hate speech, is the best reaction to try and muzzle that person (by, say, issuing a travel ban) or to openly contest that person’s ideas? Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (D) said he’d like to ban Trump from his city, which, Nutter said, doesn’t have “any room for that kind of stupidity.” “Trump’s irresponsible, inflammatory rhetoric and deliberate propagation of misinformation have created a frightened and hostile atmosphere that could embolden people to violence,” the outspoken Hall of Fame basketball player wrote. “He’s the swaggering guy in old Westerns buying drinks for everyone in the saloon while whipping them up for a lynching.” “I don’t have any misgiving about my faith,” he told NPR last month, saying that Islam is a religion of peace.

Upon leaving, several attendees said they would soon share with one another memos about delegate allocation in each state as well as research about the 1976 convention, the last time the GOP gathered without a clear nominee. Their political ideology spanned from strongly conservative (seven) to moderately conservative (17) to moderate (four) and who identified as one moderately liberal. He issued a similar defense earlier in the year on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” In a January column for Time, Abdul-Jabbar lamented the role he feels he is expected to play as a famous Muslim. “Another horrendous act of terrorism has taken place and people like myself who are on media speed-dial under ‘Celebrity Muslims’ are thrust in the spotlight to angrily condemn, disavow, and explain — again — how these barbaric acts are in no way related to Islam,” he wrote at the time. When asked Thursday about the dinner and convention planning, Sean Spicer, the RNC’s chief strategist and spokesman, said: “The RNC is neutral in this process and the rules are set until the convention begins next July.

But it doesn’t mean they don’t occasionally cringe or feel conflicted as the candidate stretches the limits of what’s acceptable in American politics. “I really am worried that if he keeps saying some of what he’s been saying he might drive people away,” Trump supporter Tina Collier said in an interview. John McCain wasn’t a war hero because he was captured; his feud with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly; a series of factually inaccurate remarks; and the time he called Iowa voters stupid.

On Tuesday, in response to the blowback from party leaders to his anti-Muslim proposal, he pointed in a tweet to a poll showing 68% of his supporters would follow him if he bolted. To me he’s whip-smart, he’s a leader, he’s going to do things other people haven’t done.” Scott Mexic, a businessman from McLean, Va., said that despite some of Trump’s ideas, he still believes the business tycoon a would make a good commander-in-chief. Supporters conceded that the real-estate mogul sometimes says things that don’t sit well, but they were quick to defend the Republican frontrunner all the same. “When he said we’re going to stop all Muslims from coming in, at first I just thought oh no way,” Collier said. “But he says something crazy, and then he dials it back and explains it, and then I start to think yeah that makes sense. Attendees included Ward Baker, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee; Rob Simms, his counterpart at the National Republican Congressional Committee; Ron Kaufman, an RNC committeeman and Mitt Romney confidant; and pollster Linda DiVall.

He’s got more than enough money to cover the costs, which would quickly extend into the millions — for filing fees, lawyers to navigate the thicket of state election laws, and ground troops to gather signatures for filing petitions in the 48 states that require them. Since the terrorist attacks in Paris last month, and more recently in San Bernardino, Trump’s campaign has focused largely on concerns about national security, although he’s offered mostly vague details as to how to combat Islamic State, the extremist group the attackers pledged allegiance to. A visit to Israel is considered a rite of passage for U.S. presidential candidates as they seek to burnish their foreign policy credentials and appeal to Jewish American voters, and Netanyahu has hosted scores of candidates and elected American officials over the years.

And as his stadium-filling rallies have demonstrated, just by showing up, he can summon the hordes of devotees he’ll need to actually sign those petitions on his behalf (figure more than a half-million verified signatures, though there’s some wiggle room). A spokesman for the current home secretary, Theresa May, recently boasted that his boss had banned “more foreign nationals on the grounds of unacceptable behaviour than any [home secretary] before her.” But this aggressive campaign has raised serious concerns. During the current campaign, Trump’s Republican rivals have questioned his foreign policy bona fides, suggesting he lacks the depth and diplomatic skill to tackle crises in the Mideast and elsewhere. Moreover, he’s said he saw “thousands of people” cheering in New Jersey as the World Trade Center towers collapsed in the Sept. 11 attacks – a claim debunked as false by local law enforcement and elected officials. If he isn’t scared of the backlash that words invite, he won’t be scared to stare down the enemy. “Americans think the country is in crisis,” a participant identified as Jeff said. “I’m attracted to his persona because of what’s happening in the world, international affairs.

Trump has argued his vast experience brokering business deals qualifies him to negotiate with foreign leaders, and he has cited the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a prime example. With less than two months until the first votes are cast in the 2016 nominating contests, Trump still has not ruled out a possible run as an independent should he not secure the Republican nomination. “If [Republicans] don’t treat me as the front-runner … if the playing field is not level, then certainly all options are open,” Trump told CNN on Wednesday.

Confronted with criticism, most claimed to like Trump even more—though they were keenly aware of how the candidate may come across to people who aren’t receptive to his message. “You’ve been highlighting what seem to be Trump’s weaknesses,” Scott, a participant said to Luntz, the moderator. “They’re not that bad. It’s probably the toughest deal to make.” In normal circumstances, Netanyahu, who thrives in the public limelight and tends to agree with Republican positions on economic and security issues, would have welcomed Trump. For example, recently, U.S. shock jock Michael Savage and right-wing activist Pamela Geller, who is also from the States, have been refused entry to Britain.

The problem facing the party — a crowded field led by a billionaire firebrand — was evident on Thursday, a deadline to qualify for the Virginia presidential primary. Like the other Republican candidates, Trump — whose daughter, Ivanka, converted to Judaism — has long worked to portray himself as a strong supporter of Israel. Overall, if we look at recent history we see that there is a long list of rather curious characters who have been excluded from Britain: from Snoop Doggy Dogg and Chris Brown to Martha Stewart; and from Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda and scientologist Ron Hubbard to Dutch MP Geert Wilders. He says some things that are off color, that I’m embarrassed by occasionally, but I still think he’s a leader.” Luntz put it this way: “The more that you challenge them supporting him, the more people align themselves with him … They don’t like people attacking him, even more than they don’t like what he’s saying.” While the rest of American society has let Trump supporters down, the Republican candidate gives voice to their thoughts and feelings.

Winger said that decision likely wouldn’t hold up, pointing to the fact that Lyndon LaRouche competed in three successive presidential elections in the state, starting in 1984, each time running first as a Democrat and then an independent. The appeal of validation creates a powerful pull. (“[He’s] talking to us not like we’re stupid,” Kara, another participant said.) Many supporters felt that Trump, and they themselves, have been misunderstood. Do we risk suffocating free speech because of undue sensitivity or political correctness if we bar individuals who are not directly inciting violence but are just offensive to certain quarters of society?

Early this year, Netanyahu was harshly criticized when he warned that Arabs were voting “in droves” as he made an urgent election-day plea to supporters to go to the polls. The media has distorted the facts and created a caricature of Trump’s campaign, and frustration was palpable as Trump’s fans felt pressure to justify the way they see the world. “We understand there are radical people and then there are people who are totally fine,” said Kara. “They’re just trying to say ‘oh people distrust Muslims.’ No, that’s not the case. But if it is, I’d certainly go all the way — and I think I’d have a certain disadvantage,” he said. “I’ll be disadvantaged,” he continued. “The deal-making, that’s my advantage. Those comments remain fresh in the minds of Israeli Arabs, and cozying up to Trump would have risked drawing renewed accusations of racism, particularly if the outspoken real estate mogul and reality TV star managed to offend Muslims.

We distrust Jihadists, we distrust people who come here to cause harm and kill us.” “I would say that Trump has a lot of good words and he’s really positive. Beyond protecting the public, in the sense of public safety, should the role of a home secretary effectively involve acting as some kind of thought police?

My disadvantage is that I’d be going up against guys who grew up with each other, who know each other intimately and I don’t know who they are, okay? Opposition lawmaker Michal Rozin of the dovish Meretz party on Wednesday initiated a petition urging Netanyahu to condemn Trump’s “racist” comments and to cancel the meeting unless the American retracts them. He managed to appear on every ballot, ultimately earning close to 19% of the popular vote nationwide, the best independent showing in a presidential race in a century. Similar debates have played out everywhere from Australia, where former Prime Minister Tony Abbott proposed a “red card” system for foreign “hate preachers,” to Israel, where controversy flared in 2010 after the American linguist Noam Chomsky, a fierce critic of Israeli policies, was denied entry to the West Bank under murky circumstances. In a statement Wednesday, Netanyahu rejected Trump’s comments about Muslims, saying Israel “respects all religions.” Although he had said he would go ahead with the Dec. 28 meeting, he stressed it did not amount to an endorsement of Trump.

At times, it is difficult to publicly avow support for a candidate who so often offends. “[I like] to see him speak when he’s serious, when he’s in ‘good Trump’ mode,” a participant named Jennifer said. “Usually we just see the clips of him in ‘bad Trump’ mode. That Israel kills Arabs, that Israel is an apartheid state?” Such statements, he argued, could incite grave violence. “The world didn’t suffer because too many people read Mein Kampf. In 2004, Democrats filed 29 complaints against Ralph Nader’s campaign to drain resources and focus from a candidacy that threatened to siphon support from their nominee, according to Oliver Hall, founder of the Center for Competitive Democracy. “Trump’s money makes it not as big a problem,” Hall said. “But the human resources matter.

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