Donald Trump’s trip to Israel passed by in a flash — after all, the president only stopped in the Jewish state for two days.
Nevertheless, Trump managed to do plenty of things during his visit. He checked out the Western Wall, Yad Vashem, and the Israel Museum, and he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The trip also managed to produce some awkward moments involving Trump and his administration.
Here are some of them.
1. Trump pays a visit to “Vad Vanshem” and has an “amazing” time
The White House made an unfortunate typo in a live video feed of Trump’s visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, by incorrectly spelling the museum “Vad Vanshem” — something that sounds closer to the name of a Dutch count.
Before leaving, Trump signed the guest book with a short message in which he wrote about the museum being “so amazing.” To many on Twitter, the note (which read in full, “It is a great honor to be here with all of my friends. So amazing + will Never Forget!”) seemed lighthearted given the museum’s harrowing content.
2. In Jerusalem, Trump forgets he’s in the Middle East
Trump praised Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s trip-organizing skills during a meeting with Israel’s President Rivlin in Jerusalem. “The secretary of state has done an incredible job. We just got back from the Middle East, we just got back from Saudi Arabia,” Trump said.
But there’s a problem with that statement: Israel is in the Middle East. And just after Trump makes the statement, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, is seen running his hand through his hair — a move that some have interpreted as embarrassment on the president’s behalf.
3. Secretary of State Tillerson calls Tel Aviv the “home of Judaism”
Before the trip, a Trump official got in a heated argument with Israelis after claiming the Kotel was “part of the West Bank.” So en route to Israel, Tillerson evaded questions about whether the Western Wall is part of the Jewish state. But he did make waves across the internet for another reason: He said that Trump was on his way to “Tel Aviv, home of Judaism.”
Critics, like Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America, insisted that Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv, is Judaism’s historical and spiritual home.
4. Netanyahu calls Melania Trump “First Wife”
Yes, English isn’t Netanyahu’s first language, but the Israeli prime minister made a particularly awkward comment during an address at the Israel Museum.
“You, First Wife, First Family, First Lady Melania Trump, your family and your delegation, you’ve shown a great commitment to Israel’s future and to its security,” the Israeli leader said.
The sentence itself sounded strange, but the fact that Melania actually is Trump’s third wife is what made it cringeworthy.
5. The White House can’t decide if Jerusalem is in Israel, or if it recognizes “Palestine”
The status of Jerusalem is the subject of a longstanding U.S. policy debate — and it showed during Trump’s trip. In a live stream of Trump’s remarks with Netanyahu on Monday, the White House listed the meeting’s location as “Jerusalem, Israel.”
But during the president’s visit to the Israel Museum on Tuesday, the live stream called the location simply “Jerusalem.” The White House also referred to Abbas as president of “Palestine” in a schedule, despite the fact that the U.S. does not recognize a Palestinian state. It later corrected his title to president of the Palestinian Authority.
JTA Wire Service