“It’s not helpful,” Ziman CEO Samer Makhlouf told the Washington Blade at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Makhlouf made the comment during a meeting with more than two dozen people from the U.S. who were in the West Bank with A Wider Bridge, which describes itself as an “LGBTQ advocacy group building connections between the Israeli and North American LGBTQ communities.” The group arrived in Jerusalem two days after Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton sent shockwaves throughout the world.
Trump in the wake of the June 12 massacre at the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Fla., reiterated his call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the U.S. He also said he would suspend immigration from countries with a “proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe and our allies.”
Trump in August said his administration would require potential immigrants to the U.S. to pass an “ideological test” that would include questions about LGBT rights. The president-elect told reporters that immigration is among his top three priorities once he takes office in January.
“I feel terrified (by) this kind of speech that is really polarizing the society in America,” Makhlouf told the Blade. “It’s also affecting everyone worldwide, especially in this part of the world.”
Makhlouf added Trump’s rhetoric also makes the prospect of a peace agreement between the Israelis and “even further.”
“We want someone to be helpful, and not to be making our problems more difficult,” said Makhlouf.
WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency, reported Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas congratulated Trump on his election and expressed his “wishes that just and comprehensive peace will prevail in the region and entire world during his administration.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a video statement described Trump as “a great friend of Israel.”
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) November 9, 2016
Reuters reported that Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, chair of the right-wing Bayit Yehudi party who supports the expansion of settlements on the West Bank, said Trump’s election means the “era of a Palestinian state is over.”
Trump’s election an ‘opportunity’ for Netanyahu
Many Israelis with whom the Blade has met and spoken in recent days expressed shock over Trump’s election.
“Our hearts are full of pain and mourning,” said Noa Sattath, director of the Israel Religious Action Center, a group that promotes religious pluralism and gender equality, on Friday during a meeting in Jerusalem.
Leon Wiener Dou of the Shalom Hartman Institute, a Jerusalem-based pluralist think tank, told the Blade on Friday the “entire world is in a state of shock right now” over Trump’s election. He added the majority of Israelis are in what he described as “political vertigo.”
“Most people had no idea this was coming,” said Dou.
The platform that the Republican Party adopted in July opposes “any measures” against Israel “intended to impose an agreement or to dictate borders or other terms.” It also rejects “the false notion that Israel is an occupier” and describes the campaign in support of a boycott, economic divestment and sanctions against Israel over its policies towards the Palestinians as “anti-Semitic in nature and seeks to destroy” the country.
Trump told the Wall Street Journal last week that he will achieve “the ultimate deal” between the Israelis and the Palestinians. He also supports the relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Trump last week invited Netanyahu to meet with him in the U.S. as soon as possible.
Dou told the Blade that Netanyahu views Trump’s election as “an opportunity” because the U.S. will no longer pressure his government to make any concessions to the Palestinians. He also noted the Israeli government sharply criticized the deal the U.S. and five other countries reached with Iran over its nuclear program in 2015.
Trump also opposes the agreement.
Another Shalom Hartman Institute staffer told the Blade that most Israelis feel Trump “is good for Israel because he’s said more positive things than anyone else.”
“They’re not thinking about if it’s good for America, is it good globally,” she said. “They’re thinking if its good or bad for Israel, which is a very narrow vision in my eyes.”
Tom Canning, a Jerusalem-based LGBT rights advocate, told the Blade on Friday that Israel’s “own populist and divisive political leaders” are now “speaking with a new tone of legitimacy for the direction they are leading us.” Canning also expressed concern over the impact that a Trump presidency could have on LGBT rights in the U.S.
“Initially it raised fear and worry about the direction the world is heading and concern for my LGBT and minority friends in America,” he said.
Editor’s note: Michael K. Lavers is currently in Israel with A Wider Bridge. He will be reporting from the country through Nov. 22.