Some American Jews “don’t love Israel enough,” US President Donald Trump said to a crowd of around 4,000 people in southern Florida on Saturday night at the Israeli-American Council's (IAC) annual event, a comment reminiscent of previous remarks made by the president. “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” Trump told reporters in April.
The president used his talk at the IAC, his first-ever speech for a non-political Jewish organization, to attack his predecessor, Barack Obama, put down the Democratic Party and praise his efforts for the Jewish state.
“So many of you voted for people in the last administration,” Trump said to a welcome of loud chants of “four more years.”
“Someday you’ll have to explain that to me because I don’t think they liked Israel too much, I’m sorry,” he continued. “After eight years of which our alliance was undermined and neglected, I am happy to report the United States-Israeli relationship is stronger now than ever before... The Jewish state has never had a better friend in office than your president.”
He noted that he finds recent acts by the radical Left to be “unacceptable.”
Trump told the crowd that he is in shock when he sees Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi “being pushed around” by the more radical members of her party. “It is unbelievable,” he said.
He reminded attendees of the resolution introduced earlier this year by Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, championing “the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights.”
He said the resolution equated supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement with boycotting the evil perpetrated by the Nazi regime during World War II.
Though Trump did not mention Omar by name, he recalled her comment last February that “supporting Israel is all about the Benjamins.”
“It is unacceptable,” the president said. “My administration strongly opposes this despicable rhetoric.
“This could not have happened 10 years ago,” he continued. “Radical lawmakers who support the BDS movement are advancing anti-Israel and antisemitic” legislation.
The president said he would do what he could to stop the sprawl of antisemitism across the United States.
He also commented on Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren: “You’re not going to vote for Pocahontas, I’ll tell you that. You’re not going to vote for the wealth tax.
“Let’s take 100% of your wealth away,” he mocked, referring to Warren’s tax policy. “No, no. Even if you don’t like me – and some of you don’t, some of you I don’t like at all actually – and you’re going to be my biggest supporters because you’ll be out of business in about 15 minutes.”
He did not mention the state of Israeli politics during his address.
Instead, the president spent most of his speech praising his own administration and the support it has provided for the State of Israel.
“International law does not prohibit settlements in the West Bank,” he said, touting the recent announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that “the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not, per se, inconsistent with international law.” The announcement undid the Obama-era stance.
He said, for example, that he kept his promise and moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
Trump said that he wanted to do “what no president has done... They never did it, because when they thought I was going to do it, I started getting calls from everyone. I got calls from presidents and prime ministers, ‘Don’t do it! Don’t do it, please. It will be terrible if you do it.”
He recalled how some countries that “you never even heard of before” were calling him as the 2018 embassy move grew closer. Eventually, he said, he stopped taking their calls and told leaders he would get back to them soon, after the move was formally announced. He noted that he was warned of “massive violence,” but massive violence never came.
“CNN had the cameras very low, pointing to the sky,” the president said, explaining that the news outlet tried to make it look more violent than it really was. “It was fake news, as usual.”
The president greeted special adviser Jared Kushner and said his son-in-law wants to make peace, adding that he was told that a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians is the toughest thing.
“If Jared Kushner can’t do it, it can’t be done,” he said.
Trump likewise praised his administration’s recognition of the Golan Heights.
“For 52 years, people would have summits over the Golan Heights,” Trump said. “Fifty-two years and then, ‘bing,’ and it was done.”
He also voiced strong support for releasing the Israelis who are held in Hamas captivity.
The president recognized Rachelle Fraenkel and Bat Galim Shaer, who were in attendance at the event, the mothers of Naftali Fraenkel and Gil-Ad Shaer, who were murdered in 2014, leading up to the war in Gaza that summer. He also mentioned his decision to sign the Taylor Force Act into law, which intends to put a stop to American economic aid to the Palestinian Authority until they cease funding terrorism.
Then, the president turned to Iran. He said, “We must never allow a regime that chants ‘death to America’ or ‘death to Israel’ to obtain a nuclear weapon.”
Trump said that the Iranian regime espouses the “most heinous antisemitism,” recalling how Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani called Israel a malignant cancer that must be removed and eradicated from the face of the Earth. However, he noted that “America will always stand with the Iranian people and their righteous struggle for freedom.”