Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, says he is postponing his scheduled trip to Israel, amid the controversy over his remarks calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
I have decided to postpone my trip to Israel and to schedule my meeting with @Netanyahu at a later date after I become President of the U.S.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2015
As we reported Wednesday, in the wake of Trump’s remarks, his previously scheduled meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, on December 28 drew widespread criticism.
But while Trump’s comments—and Trump himself—have been condemned, a visit to Israel is akin to a rite of passage for any serious presidential candidate. Barack Obama did it when he was running in 2008, as did Mitt Romney, prior to the 2012 election.
Netanyahu himself, while noting that he would go ahead with the December 28 meeting, criticized the remarks.
As we reported:
Trump’s visit to Israel, which he announced on Twitter on Tuesday, has proven highly controversial, and his proposed meeting with Netanyahu has been condemned by some Israeli lawmakers, mostly Israeli Arabs and members of leftist parties.
Issawi Frej, an Arab-Israeli lawmaker from the Meretz party, wrote to Silvan Shalom, the interior minister, asking that Trump’s visit be blocked.
“As an Israeli citizen, I ask that the state treat the racism against me in the same way it would relate to racism against Jews,” he wrote, according to The Times of Israel. “Just as it is obvious that Israel wouldn’t allow an anti-Semite to use it to advance its political goals, so too, should be the case of Trump.”
Trump, who is leading in many polls to be the Republican presidential nominee, has defended his remarks about Muslims, citing the attack in San Bernardino, California, which was carried out by an Illinois-born man and his Pakistan-born wife.