President Donald Trump warned on Saturday that a Democratic victory in 2020 could “leave Israel out there,” as he highlighted his pro-Israel actions in an effort to make the case for Jewish voters to back his re-election.
Speaking in Las Vegas at the annual meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Trump touted his precedent-shredding actions to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv and recognition last month of Israeli sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights, a strategic plateau that Israel seized from Syria in 1967.
“We got you something that you wanted,” Trump said of the embassy move, adding, “Unlike other presidents, I keep my promises.”
The group, backed by GOP donor Sheldon Adelson, supported Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and is preparing to spend millions on his 2020 effort.
“I know that the Republican Jewish Coalition will help lead our party to another historic victory,” Trump said. “We need more Republicans. Let’s go, so we can win everything.”
Jewish voters in the U.S. have traditionally sided heavily with Democrats, but Republicans are hoping to narrow the gap next year, in part as the president cites actions that demonstrate support for Israel.
Trump earned standing ovations for recounting both the embassy move and the Golan Heights recognition.
He noted it had long been a priority for Adelson and his wife, Miriam. “That is the most important thing that’s ever happened in their life,” the president said. “They love Israel.”
Trump’s speech comes weeks after he suggested Democrats “hate” Jews in the wake of comments by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., that were widely criticized as anti-Semitic. The party’s response was tepid: Instead of addressing Omar by name and focusing on anti-Semitism specifically, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a resolution that condemned all forms of “bigotry” and “persecution.”
The president mockingly thanked Omar as he began his speech Saturday, before adding, “Oh, I forgot. She doesn’t like Israel, I forgot, I’m sorry. No, she doesn’t like Israel, does she? Please, I apologize.”
He also accused Democrats of allowing anti-Semitism to “take root” in their party.
Before Trump’s appearance, people assembled for the event carried signs with “We are Jews for Trump” and “Trump” written in Hebrew. Dozens of men and several women wore red yarmulkes with “Trump” in white that were distributed at the event.
The president also took credit for eliminating hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians and for pulling the U.S. out of several U.N. organizations, the U.N. Human Rights Council and UNESCO, citing anti-Israel bias in their agendas.
He criticized some 2020 Democrats who have suggested they would re-enter the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, from which Trump withdrew the United States. The agreement was fiercely opposed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has cheered as Trump re-imposed stringent new sanctions on the country that Israel regards as an existential threat. The president is closely aligned with Netanayu, who is seeking to return power in Tuesday’s national election.
Trump predicted that election is “going to be close,” adding it features “two good people,” seemingly referring to Netanyahu and the threat to Netanyahu’s coalition, former Israeli army chief of staff Benny Gantz.
The president met privately with Adelson before speaking, according to an official. Adelson has cancer and has been in poor health, but he and his wife attended Trump’s remarks — receiving a standing ovation when they entered the ballroom.
The Adelsons gave Trump’s campaign $30 million in 2016. They followed that by contributing $100 million to the Republican Party for the 2018 midterm elections.
Introducing Trump, former Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., the chairman of the RJC, led the audience in an adapted version of the Passover reading “Dayenu,” as he recounted what Trump had done for Israel.
Stuart Weil, a Jewish man from Fresno, California, said Americans have traditionally been very supportive of Israel but “the progressive, liberal wing of the Democratic Party” is changing that.
Weil, who wore a blue Trump-style hat that read, “Making Israel & America Great Again,” said he’s a Republican because of the party’s strong stance on Israel.
According to AP Votecast, a survey of more than 115,000 midterm voters and 3,500 Jewish voters nationwide, voters who identified as Jewish broke for Democrats over Republicans by a wide margin, 72 percent to 26 percent, in 2016.
Over the past decade, Jewish voters have shown stability in their partisanship, according to data from Pew Research Center. Jewish voters identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party over the Republican Party by a roughly 2-1 ratio.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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