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Trump says Jewish Americans 'don't like Israel'

Former US president says Israel's 'absolute power over Congress' has vanished, as he blames Jewish voters and Democratic lawmakers
Former US president Donald Trump claimed evangelical Christians were more loyal to Israel than Jewish Americans (AFP)

Former US president Donald Trump in a previously recorded interview that circulated on social media on Friday said Jewish people in the United States “don’t like Israel”.

“The Jewish people in the United States either don’t like Israel or don’t care about Israel,” Trump said in an interview with Israeli journalist Barak Ravid, author of the recently published book, Trump's Peace: The Abraham Accords and the Reshaping of the Middle East.

The former US leader blamed many Jewish Americans for their voting record, stating: “It used to be that Israel had absolute power over Congress, and today I think it's the exact opposite.”

Trump said his predecessor, Barrack Obama, and President Joe Biden (both Democrats) were responsible for what he claimed is the lack of congressional support for Israel, adding: “Yet, in the election, they still get a lot of votes from Jewish people.”

Over the past few years, some have said that the Democratic Party is slowly tilting against support for Israel, a position that has been a bedrock of US foreign policy in the Middle East for decades. 

They point to the actions of progressive Democratic lawmakers like Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who have sought to end US military assistance to Israel and emerged as vocal critics of the Israeli government’s policies towards Palestinians.

Tlaib and Omar have floated legislation in support of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, known as BDS, but have been unable to gain the support of their wider party. 

Many say that Tlaib and Omar represent a small section of the Democratic Party, the majority of which is still committed to US support for Israel. 

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Earlier this year, the Democrat-controlled Congress passed a mammoth defence spending bill that included US military assistance to Israel, such as the replenishment of its Iron Dome defence system.

The recent comments by Trump are not the first time he has criticised Jewish Americans for voting Democrat. In 2019, while president, he said Jews who vote for the party are guilty of ignorance and “great disloyalty”.

Jewish Americans, who account for just 2.4 percent of the total US population, have long been a reliable Democratic voting bloc.

According to a 2021 poll by the Pew Research Center, about 70 percent of US Jews identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party. 

But the same poll also showed signs of an emerging division between Orthodox Jews, who are trending younger in age, and other branches of the faith whose followers are ageing.

In 2020, 75 percent of Orthodox Jews identified as Republican and overwhelmingly supported then-president Trump.

In his comments to Ravid, Trump also said that “evangelical Christians love Israel more than the Jews in this country”. 

Evangelicals were a key part of Trump’s base in his successful 2016 election bid and voted overwhelmingly for him in 2020 as well. They are seen as reliable supporters of US support for Israel, though a recent poll showed that may be changing with younger members. 

In the interview, Trump went on to slam the New York Times, stating that they “hate Israel,” seemingly pointing out that "Jewish people" run the paper, in a reference to the Jewish origins of the family that publishes it. 

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.