The 7 most awkward moments from Trump’s Israel trip

While preparations for US President Donald Trump's visit were especially thorough, some blunders were apparently inevitable.

By JOSEFIN DOLSTEN/JTA
May 24, 2017 09:38
donald trump in jerusalem

US President Donald Trump stands next to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before delivering an address at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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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.

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The trip also managed to produce plenty of awkward moments involving Trump and his administration — there were some unfortunate typos, a failed attempt at holding the first lady’s hand (which went viral) and two geographic flubs.

Here’s a list of the most tweetable faux pas from Trump’s Israel visit.

1. Trump wants “lasting peach” in the Middle East

A White House statement listing Trump’s goals for the trip included a hilarious (and juicy!) typo: “Promote the possibility of lasting peach” between Israel and the Palestinians. Yes, we get it — it meant to say peace, but who’s to say the two sides can’t bond over some delicious fruit?


2. Trump pays a visit to “Vad Vanshem” and has an “amazing” time



The White House made another 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 gushed 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 a tad lighthearted given the museum’s harrowing context — but hey, isn’t it the thought that counts?President Trump Gives Remarks at the Israel Museum


3. In Jerusalem, Trump forgets he’s in the Middle East

Trump praised Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s trip organizing skills during a meeting in Jerusalem with Rivlin. “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.



4. Secretary of State Tillerson calls Tel Aviv the “home of Judaism”


Ahead of 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. However, he did make waves across the internet for another reason: He stated 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.


5. 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 is actually Trump’s third wife is what made it cringe-worthy.

6. 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 US 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 US does not recognize a Palestinian state. It later corrected his title to president of the Palestinian Authority.


7. Melania appears to slap away Trump’s hand


Upon arriving in Israel, Trump attempted to hold his wife’s hand — but she looked like she wasn’t having it. In a video that went viral on social media, Melania appeared to slap away her husband’s hand as the couple got off of Air Force One at Ben-Gurion Airport.

The drama didn’t stop after the Trumps left Israel, either: A second video surfaced of Melania seeming to reject her husband’s hand Tuesday after landing in Rome. This may be fodder for the administration’s next misunderstanding: Is Rome the City of Love?


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