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Trump tells American Jews: 'We love your country', and asks for their votes

US president suggests American Jewish leaders see themselves as Israelis during pre-Rosh Hashanah presidential call
Throughout his presidency, Trump has made a number of concessions to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Throughout his presidency, Trump has made many concessions to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (AFP/File photo)
By in
Washington

In a call with American Jewish leaders, President Donald Trump spent much of his time making the case for more American Jews to vote for him, and ended his remarks by equating Jewish Americans with Israelis.

"We really appreciate you," Trump said as he signed off the call, an annual pre-Rosh Hashanah presidential tradition. "We love your country also."

The comments, first reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, echoed others he has made, including at a White House Hanukkah party two years ago, suggesting that American Jews think of themselves as Israelis.

'We're in the Middle East because of Israel'

- Donald Trump

Earlier in the call, Trump introduced his Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner as "an unbelievable leader for Israel".

Kushner helped the US broker the deals in which the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain would normalise ties with Israel - the two agreements were signed on Tuesday.

Trump's comments on the call have also blurred the line between presidential events and political campaigning. Until his presidency, making campaign appeals at the White House or using presidential offices as a part of the election campaign have been seen as unethical, if not illegal.

He said that if he were not re-elected to the presidency, Israel would suffer, and urged listeners to campaign for him.

"I have to say this, whatever you can do in terms of November 3 is going to be very important because if we don't win, Israel is in big trouble," Trump said.

'All bets are off'

Throughout his presidency, Trump has made a number of concessions to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, including moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, recognising Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, and most recently brokering normalisation agreements with the UAE and Bahrain.

Trump also noted that the US had given $4.2bn in annual assistance to the country, even though the real figure is $3.8bn and stems from a deal ushered in under President Barack Obama.

"We're in the Middle East because of Israel," Trump said.

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"This is really a time that's very important in the life of Israel and the safety of Israel. And we will do a great job," he said. "If the other side gets in all bets are off. I think it'll be a whole different story. I think it'll be exactly the opposite."

Jews traditionally vote in large numbers for the Democratic nominee in presidential elections.

A poll this week carried out by the Jewish Electorate Institute showed Joe Biden getting 67 percent of the Jewish vote and Trump 30 percent.

Still, Jewish voters in swing states could bring about a closer race, and Trump said he was stumped as to why he did not command a larger share of the Jewish vote.

"Which really amazes me, and I have to tell you, because I saw a poll that in the last election, I got 25 percent of the Jewish vote, and I said 'here I have a son-in-law and a daughter who are Jewish, I have beautiful grandchildren that are Jewish'. I have all of these incredible achievements," Trump said.

"I'm amazed that [the Jewish vote] seems to be almost automatically a Democrat."