When Donald Trump speaks to a major pro-Israel group Monday, a group of rabbis plans to march out in disgust, while others say they will listen skeptically. Our Josh Robin looks at the resistance, which could affect his performance in his native New York in next month's Republican presidential primary.
"I love Israel," Donald Trump told Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom. "Your friend is leading this race."
Trump, who leads the Republican race for president, was grand marshal of the 2004 Salute to Israel Parade. But it's disputed whether he's Israel's friend, or that Jewish Republicans love him back.
It may begin with one word —
"Let me be sort of a neutral guy," Trump said on MSNBC on Feb. 17.
Neutrality in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
"Or some people like to say evenhanded as between Israel and her enemies is really not something that people in the pro-Israel community are looking for in a president of the United States," said Nathan Diament of the Orthodox Union.
Trump now says he wants Palestinians to think he's neutral, but no position on keeping Jerusalem the undivided Israeli capital unleashed boos Dec. 3, and has those attending Monday's speech eager for specifics.
"Not broad statements, not Mr. Trump standing up like he often does and says, 'believe me,'" Diament said.
Then perceived stereotypes when addressing a Jewish Republican group, the Republican Jewish Coalition:
"I don't want your money, therefore you're probably not gonna support me," Trump said. "I'm a negotiator like you folks, we're negotiators."
"We're all good with contracts," Trump added.
Others are troubled by heated language about other faiths.
"Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States," Trump said Dec. 7, reading from a statement.
One former George W. Bush speechwriter called it the darkest days for Republican Jewish voters like himself.
"Donald Trump, the most likely Republican candidate for president, has built within our party the nearest thing America has ever seen to a European nativist working class political movement," Noam Neusner wrote in an article. "Such movements, to put it mildly, have never been good for the Jews."
To calm skeptics, Trump points out that his daughter Ivanka married a Jewish man and converted to Judaism herself. But some say that's not enough.
"People are worried now," Republican political consultant Jonathan Greenspun said. "Will they be worried three months from now? I'm just not sure."
Trump's campaign didn't respond to a request for comment.
A top aide is quoted as saying:
"Mr. Trump has always had a special place in his heart for both Israel and the Jewish people. Many of his closest friends and staff are Jewish."
Jewish voters are also overwhelmingly Democratic, though in a competitive Republican primary they could make a difference.