Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received the loudest cheers in his 25 minute speech to the AIPAC Policy Conference on Monday when he attacked someone he is not running against.
“President Obama is in his final year. Yay,” Trump said. “He may be the worst thing to happen to Israel. And you know that better than I do.”
Trump was the third Republican in line speaking to 18,000 Israel supporters at the Verizon Center Monday afternoon. Ohio Gov. and presidential contender John Kasich (R) was first out, followed by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc). Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) followed Trump.
“I want you all to know I’ve called for the suspension of U.S. participation in the Iran nuclear deal in retaliation for Iran’s recent [missile tests],” Kasich said. “These tests are both a violation of the spirit of the nuclear deal and provocations that cannot be ignored.”
“I have been in business a long time,” Trump said. “I know dealmakers. And let me tell you, this deal is catastrophic, for America, for Israel and for the whole Middle East.
“The problem here is fundamental,” Trump continued. “We’ve rewarded the world’s leading state sponsor of terror with $150 billion and we’ve received absolutely nothing in return.”
Cruz repeated the promise he has made on the agreement. “On my first day in office, I will rip this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal to shreds,” he said, adding, “If I am president and Iran launches a missile test, we will shoot that missile down” — a promise that won moderate applause.
The speakers also voiced support for Israel and the democratic system it shares with the United States.
Cruz said that he has traveled to Israel 3 times. Trump opened his speech by telling the audience he is a “lifelong supporter and true friend of Israel.”
Kasich wrapped up his speech by declaring: “We’re connected together. It’s about civilization. It’s about peace. It’s about love. It’s about togetherness. It’s about healing the world. The great Jewish tradition is that everybody lives a life a little bit bigger than yourself.”
“And that is why,” Ryan said, “I can pledge to you here tonight, that as long as I am speaker of the House, we will not allow any legislation that divides our two countries to come to the floor for consideration. Our friendship is too important. The dangers we face are too real. America is safer when we stand with Israel.”
There were also harsh words for the Palestinians.
Kasich said Palestinian “children’s textbooks have been filled with vile anti-Semitism … imprisoned terrorists receive stipends. If they truly want peace with Israel, the Palestinians cannot continue to promote a culture of hatred and death.”
“Every single day you have incitement and children being taught to hate Israel and to hate the Jews,” he said. “It has to stop. When you live in a society where the firefighters are the heroes, little kids want to be firefighters. … In Palestinian society, the heroes are those who murder Jews. We can’t let this continue. We can’t let this happen any longer.”
Trump said the Obama administration was working with the United Nations Security Council on a peace deal for Israel and the Palestinians.
“A deal imposed on Israel and the Palestinians by the U.N. will be a catastrophe and a disaster,” he said. And it’s not going to happen, folks.”
He said the two parties must negotiate themselves. The United States could act as a facilitator.
“What Obama gets wrong about dealmaking is that he “constantly applies pressure to our friends and rewards our enemies,” which drew applause.
Cruz promised to support Israeli actions, saying, “What Israel understands is that, when you are surrounded by neighbors that seek to drive you into the sea, sometimes you don’t have time for political correctness.”