While some top Republicans have turned against Donald Trump after the hot-mic video in which he boasted of sexually assaulting women came out last week, over in Israel his team of supporters has not wavered.
Marc Zell, head of the group Republicans Overseas, told Army Radio after the video was released but prior to the new allegations, he and his family were ready to vote Trump into office.
“I have five daughters and they will all, all, vote for Trump,” Zell said, reported by the JTA.
Although critical of Trump’s 2005 comments on camera to Inside Edition’s Billy Bush of groping and kissing women, Zell said he accepted Trump’s October 10th apology, made one day before the second presidential debate.
Asked if Trump should resign, Zell said no. “He did what he did. His comments are disgusting and absolutely unacceptable, we are against it,” Zell said, adding, “he said he’s not perfect, he apologized.”
Zell was not always an ardent Trump backer, even before the scandal hit the campaign. In April after Trump cinched the GOP nomination, Zell told Haaretz he opposed Trump. “Why would I want to celebrate the nomination of someone who isn’t qualified to be president?” he said.
Tzvika Brot, Trump’s campaign manager in Israel, also defended Trump to Army Radio. Brot said that it “was good he regretted [his comments], but he isn’t running for chief rabbi. There are only perfect leaders in Hollywood.”
The video was followed this week by allegations from four women that Trump assaulted them, but a Facebook page Zell maintains for the group he heads, Republicans Overseas Israel has also posted messages of forgiveness for Trump’s misdeeds and blasted leaders in the GOP who no longer back Trump.
“Trump’s decade-old comments were rude, lewd and crude,” the group said. “Nothing can condone them. However, he was quick to acknowledge he made them; that he is imperfect; and that he apologizes for having made the remarks. As far as we are concerned, that’s the end of the matter. People say things in private that they would never say in public. He was wrong.”
In another post, Republican Overseas Israel wrote, “We also have a message for those few Republican leaders who in knee-jerk fashion moved to distance themselves from or disavow Trump-Pence in the wake of the 2005 video publication.”
In an obvious reference to Senator John McCain, who retracted his endorsement of Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan announcing he would no longer campaign for Trump, Zell exclaimed, “In Israel and I believe in the U.S., history and basic common sense has taught that when your team is under attack, you RALLY AROUND THE FLAG, YOU DON’T BURN IT AND RUN!”
Israel is home to a potential 300,000 Americans residing abroad who are eligible to vote in November, according to Brot, in an interview with the Washington Examiner last month. He asserted that many are Florida residents, and speculated that 80 percent of Floridians lean toward Republican candidates. While no data exists on the number of Americans residing in Israel who are registered in Florida, the Trump camp in Israel has promoted voter registration in the key swing-state in their outreach.
A study commissioned by the Clinton team earlier this year found in Florida, among Orthodox Jews, a clear majority said they would vote Trump. That lead could falter as even Yehuda Glick, a lightning-rod Israeli politician who has led a campaign to allow Jews to pray inside of the holy shrine complex in Jerusalem, has abandoned Trump. Parliamentarian Glick wrote on Twitter, “OK, I was wrong. When at every corner you see that the man is a savage, I tried to ignore and believe despite it all. I was wrong! Mr Trump go home. Enough is enough. Yuck!”
Whether or not he Trump has turned-off the bulk of voters in Israel, Florida registrants, Orthodox or otherwise, his surrogates on the ground continue to rally. Yet there are noticeably fewer women involved.
At a campaign event last Sunday night in Jerusalem outside of a popular American-style bar a day after the video apology, the Jerusalem Post reported, “there were no women among the volunteers, although several women passing by expressed their opposition to Trump.”
As for Trump’s chief Israel advisers, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman, New York area lawyers specializing in real estate and bankruptcy respectively before their campaign hires, they have remained quiet. Neither appeared in interviews over the last week and their social media accounts have no mention of the Trump scandal or their candidate’s response to the allegations.
Prior to working on the Trump campaign, Greenblatt was the chief legal officer for the Trump Organization and Friedman worked on Trump’s chapter nine proceedings.