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Outside Israel Museum, supporters hail Trump’s dedication to Israel

A previous presidential museum host, Amanda Weiss of the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem, appreciates gesture toward culture and history

Trump supporters from Missouri and Texas, including Susan Anderson, second from left, and Misty Frost, third from right, outside the Israel Museum waiting for a glimpse of the Trump motorcade on May 22, 2017. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)
Trump supporters from Missouri and Texas, including Susan Anderson, second from left, and Misty Frost, third from right, outside the Israel Museum waiting for a glimpse of the Trump motorcade on May 22, 2017. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

As US President Donald Trump wrapped up his visit to Israel with a speech at the Israel Museum, a few dozen Trump supporters gathered at the entrance to see if they could catch a glimpse of his motorcade.

“In America, usually whenever there’s something like this you’ll see a protest also, so it’s weird to see such a calm crowd,” said Gordon Adelson, a New Jersey native in Israel for the year at Yeshivat Torat Shraga.

Adelson, who voted for Trump, was playing hooky from a World Mizrahi event at the Israel Convention Center, and ducked out with two of his classmates to see if they could sneak into the museum to watch the speech.

“I guess I underestimated the security that they’d have for an American president,” he said, as a wall of police blocked the entrance to the museum. “It’s kind of a weak turnout, though,” he added of the dozens of people who had gathered outside, only five of whom had flags.

Susan Anderson and Misty Frost, both of Missouri, were two of the people who had the foresight to bring small flags, although the motorcade came around the back and did not pass their group of supporters. Anderson and Frost are on a trip of family and friends timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Six Day War, taking place this week.

“We planned this trip to stand with Israel before Trump was coming, but now it’s even better,” said Frost.

“We are pro-Israel Americans and we want to see our two nations becoming even more friendly,” said Anderson.

The women, both Trump supporters, said they were happy to be this close to their president, and that the visit hadn’t affected their plans since they arrived Monday.

“We believe that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and we wanted to celebrate this with Israel,” Anderson added. “We want Israelis to know that we love Israel, that tons of Americans love Israel and stand with them and we are a tiny representation of that.”

Trump supporters taking photos of the motorcade arriving at the Israel Museum on May 22, 2017. The motorcade arrived from the back entrance so did not pass the group of supporters. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)
Trump supporters taking photos of the motorcade arriving at the Israel Museum on May 22, 2017. The motorcade arrived from the back entrance so did not pass the group of supporters. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

Trump’s speech at the Israel Museum, directly on the heels of laying a wreath at Yad Vashem, was the final official stop in a whirlwind 28-hour trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Amanda Weiss, the director of the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem, which is located directly across the street from the Israel Museum, said she appreciated Trump’s gesture in holding his major speech at a cultural monument in Israel. The speech was originally planned for Masada National Park but reportedly canceled because Trump could not land his helicopter on top of the mountain and would have had to take a cable car.

Weiss hosted US president George W. and Laura Bush in 2008 during Bush’s last presidential visit to Jerusalem, on what was also the final stop of their two-day visit. That visit that was supposed to be no longer than half an hour but stretched for longer than an hour due to Bush’s enthusiasm over the subject, Weiss recalled.

She said she was glad to see Trump making his speech against the background of Israel’s history and culture.

US President Barack Obama also toured the Israel Museum in 2013, but did not make a speech there. His major public address was at the Israel Convention Center.

Amanda Weiss, left, guides President George W Bush and First Lady Laura Bush during the visit to the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem on May 16, 2008. (Isaac Harari/Flash 90)
Amanda Weiss, left, guides President George W Bush and First Lady Laura Bush during the visit to the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem on May 16, 2008. (Isaac Harari/Flash 90)

“The president recognizes the importance of the history,” she said by phone. “The power of the history of this land and its connection to our future cannot be separated. They cannot be looked at on different planes. If you don’t look at our ancient history our actual current situation and our future in one continual line, then you aren’t understanding the dynamics of this region.”

The Israel Museum’s collection contains about half a million items dating from prehistory to present day. One of the most popular exhibits at the museum is the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest copy of the Bible ever found.

In honor of Trump’s visit, the museum staff curated a one-time exhibit of Israeli art in the gallery where the speech will be given, including works from the 1950s to the 1980s by well-known Israeli artists, as well as a large-scale wallpaper installation inspired by mosaics from the Second Temple period, making the connections between the museum’s extensive holdings in contemporary art and archaeology.

Jessica Steinberg contributed to this report.

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