Donald Trump has used tough language to attack Muslims. He’s painted with a broad brush, saying he would ban all Muslims from entering the United States and deport Muslim foreigners currently in the country.
His proposal is logistically impossible — how would Homeland Security or the State Department even verify that someone is or is not Muslim? Are they trained theologians with a Muslim registry? As it turns out, the standard U.S. visa application form doesn’t even ask what your religion is.
But beyond the technicalities of Trump’s proposal, it is also highly contradictory for the candidate to say he wants to fight radical Islam when he has said he would be a “neutral broker” in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
In the most recent debate, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called out Trump for failing to grasp the significance of taking a stand for Israel, the sole democracy in the Middle East and a beacon of freedom, entrepreneurialism and women’s rights.
“The Palestinians are not a real estate deal, Donald.” Rubio said.
“A deal is a deal,” Trump responded.
“A deal is not a deal when you’re dealing with terrorists,” Rubio shot back.
Indeed, the Palestinians and Israelis do not approach the negotiating table on equal footing. Trump’s moral relativism ignores the fact that the founding charter of Hamas, an Islamic terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip, explicitly calls for the destruction of Israel. So when one party is fundamentally unwilling to acknowledge the other party’s right to exist, it is an untenable position to refuse to stand up for America’s commitment to freedom and human rights. Hamas is a murderous suicide coalition that cannot work with Israel until the Palestinians themselves tear down their violent governing ideology. That cannot happen through external intervention, it must come from cultural transformation within.
Trump is out of touch with where most Americans lie on the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Gallup polling found 70 percent of Americans view Israel favorably, and 62 percent say they sympathize more with the Israelis than the Palestinians in the Middle East conflict. By contrast, just 17 percent view the Palestinian Authority favorably, and a mere 16 percent sympathize more with the Palestinians.
Although Trump dominates among a plurality of Republicans in the primaries currently, he also has the lowest negative approval ratings of anyone in the GOP field. A Gallup poll showed Trump with a net favorability rating among independent voters of -27 percentage points, and a -70 point net rating among Democrats.
Voters also dislike Trump’s lack of policy awareness combined with his bombastic rhetoric. His complete obliviousness about the Middle East only reinforces the impression that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. And there is no small measure of hypocrisy at work. Trump can rage against Muslims, but he’s unable to denounce the Ku Klux Klan unequivocally and forcefully. Trump has been painting in broad angry strokes against many groups, from Hispanics (including failing to shut down thugs committing racially motivated crimes against a Hispanic in his name) to African-American youth and women. He jokes about shooting people with no repercussions.
Trump’s general election appeal is highly limited, and while it’s true that while likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton also brings her fair share of negatives, she has not engaged in such divisive and myopic blustering.
Indeed, during her Super Tuesday victory speech she said, “I believe what America needs is more love and kindness.” Though she’s wrong on so many policy levels, Clinton is certainly beating Trump on basic human courtesy — and voters are taking notice.
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Carrie Sheffield is the founder of Bold. She is passionate about storytelling to empower and connect others. A founding POLITICO reporter, Carrie contributed on political economy at Forbes and wrote editorials for The Washington Times. After earning a master’s in public policy from Harvard University, she managed credit risk at Goldman Sachs and researched for American Enterprise Institute scholar Edward Conard. She earned a B.A. in communications at Brigham Young University and completed a Fulbright fellowship in Berlin.