Donald Trump, the ex-U.S. president, thinks he has a licence to spew nonsense. From his mouth of late have gushed out an astonishing number of statements divorced from reality.
Last week, he lambasted Benjamin Netanyahu, the former Israeli prime minister, as an ingrate. Netanyahu offended Trump because he was performing his duty. He had the gall to congratulate Joe Biden on his victory in the last presidential election. Given to foul language, Trump dismissed Netanyahu in a few choice words. “I haven’t spoke to him since,” he said. “Fuck him.”
Most recently, he claimed that American Jews do not care about Israel and that Israel has lost its “absolute power” in the U.S. Congress.
Trump made these absurd comments in exclusive interviews with the Israeli journalist Barak Ravid, the author of Trump’s Peace, a book about his central role in brokering the Abraham accords, the normalization agreements Israel signed with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco in 2020.
Often speaking in a disjointed stream of consciousness style, Trump said, “The Jewish people in the United States either don’t like Israel or care about Israel. I mean, look at The New York Times, The New York Times hates Israel, hates them. And they’re Jewish people that run The New York Times. I mean the Sulzberger family.”
“There are people in this country that are Jewish — no longer love Israel,” he added. “I’ll tell you, the evangelical Christians love Israel more than Jews in this country.”
On what basis does he draw these sweeping conclusions? The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of Jews in the United States are emotionally and mentally attached to Israel, their justified critiques of misguided Israeli policies notwithstanding.
There are certainly Jewish Americans, most likely on the left, whom Israel has alienated to the point that they support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and endorse a binational state in place of Israel. But they are definitely in a minority and do not represent mainstream Jewish opinion.
Trump has a problem grasping why three-quarters of American Jews generally vote for the Democratic Party rather than his own Republican Party. He believes that Jews should be beholden to him and the Republican Party because he moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights.
What he fails to understand is that most American Jewish voters are interested not only in Israel, but in an assortment of other issues that have a bearing on their lives.
As for his remarks about The New York Times, they are simply untrue. The Times, in its editorials over the years, has been critical of Israel. But can legitimate criticism be equated with hatred? Not at all.
Since Trump often speaks disparagingly of the “failing” New York Times, he is hardly an objective observer. He dislikes The New York Times with a passion because it did not back his presidential campaign and sometimes ridiculed his domestic and foreign policy agenda.
Taken together, Trump’s commentaries about American Jews are baseless and unfounded. They cannot be regarded seriously.
Trump also stumbled badly when he declared, “It used to be that Israel had absolute power over Congress. And today, I think it’s the exact opposite.”
Only antisemites and ignoramuses would share Trump’s skewed view of Israel’s supposed clout on Capitol Hill. Israel certainly is influential in the House of Representatives and the Senate, but not for the reasons its enemies and detractors advance.
The United States and Israel usually share common values and goals, and strategically, Israel is the United States’ chief ally in the Middle East. It is mainly for these reasons that Israel enjoys bipartisan support in Congress.
Yet Israel does not, as Trump falsely claims, wield “absolute power over Congress.” Israel has gone down to defeat in quite a few battles in Congress in the past several decades. Today, despite all of Israel’s lobbying efforts, a congressional bill to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile defence system is still in limbo thanks to Rand Paul, a Republican senator from Kentucky.
Trump’s ruminations about Israel and American Jews simply do not stand up to scrutiny. It would be better if he remains silent. Better still, he should fade away like an old soldier.