After falling behind Hillary Clinton in the polls, Donald Trump and his campaign are looking to the one corner of the world where he stands to sweep come November — Israel. In an effort to bolster Republican voter turnout in the country, Republicans Overseas has hired a team of noted political operatives from the Israeli right-wing, and are campaigning hard for votes in the Jewish state and West Bank settlements.
Their focus is Jewish American-Israeli dual citizens, with no visible outreach to Palestinian-Americans. The campaign team is comprised of seasoned public relations experts from Israel’s ruling government coalition and organizations that back the settlements. They have traded the candidate’s iconic, “Making America Great Again” slogan for an obvious reference to a presumed Jewish voter issue, “Trump. The Israeli interest.”
In July the Trump staffers in Israel opened centers in Ramat Gan, Jerusalem and in the Jerusalem suburb of Modiin “with a fourth location to be opened over the Green Line in Samaria,” reported Arutz Sheva.
There are no campaign offices for Clinton in Israel, although there is a volunteer committee promoting her candidacy with Democrats Abroad.
Heading Trump’s campaign in Israel is a career journalist and one-time Likud city council member Tsvika Brot. Although he “is not an American citizen,” reported the Jewish Week, Brot is a sought after advisor who turned down an offer to work for Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu most recently.
Aiding Brot is Dana Mizrachi, previously a representative for Naftali Bennet’s Habayit Hayehudi party, and a public relations director for the “proto-fascist” group Im Tirtzu responsible for releasing a series of videos to blacklist left-wing organizations, according to Haaretz.
Before becoming a staffer for right-wing groups, Mizrachi was employed by Israel’s center-left Labor party.
According to Brot voters in Israel are single-issue. They back whoever supports the Jewish state the most. As of June Trump clarified his initial ambiguous statements about Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory for more pro-Israel terms.
Israel affairs consultant to the Trump campaign David Friedman told Haaretz Trump would not support the creation of a Palestinian state, unless the Israelis decided to pursue it. In true Trump fashion, the policy talking-point was delivered by the Trump advisor and not the candidate himself.
“If the Israelis don’t want to do it, so he [Trump] doesn’t think they should do it. It is their choice. … He does not think it is an American imperative for it to be an independent Palestinian state,” Friedman said.
Friedman is also a former spokesperson to the settlement of Beit El outside of Ramallah.
Brot told the Week the approach is convincing to American-Israelis. “They believe that Trump will be much more friendly,” he said, making the Trump strategy in Israel simple: voter registration.
Republicans Abroad notes on their website, “Israel is home to approximately 300,000 U.S. citizens, making Israel one of the largest populations of non-resident US citizens,” adding, “Because election margins are often extremely narrow absentee votes are critical to the election of many Republican candidates.”
Of the 300,000 Americans in Israel, nearly 60,000 are said to live in settlements–twice the total number of Americans who voted in absentee ballots from Israel in the 2014 mid-term elections.
Leading the quest to increase religious turnout, the Trump campaign hired Yerach Toker who worked as a press advisor for the religious Israeli faction United Torah Judaism, and Roni Arzi, once the spokesperson for the settler organization the Yesh Council—often referred to as the “Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the settler movement” for its lobbying efforts that include bringing delegations of American officials to tour the settlements.
Of those potential voters, Trump’s crew is forging a precision effort honing in on Ultra-Orthodox voters, as they tend to elect Republicans, standing in contrast to the majority of American-Jewish voters who overwhelmingly cast ballots for Democrats, and generally are the party to push to increase voter turnout.
Israel is home to more than twice the number of Jews who identify as Ultra-Orthodox than in America. According to a Pew study published in March, 22-percent of Israelis are religious. Of this group, nearly two-thirds favor the GOP.