Donald Trump is a hero to Jewish Israelis. They extol the president for speaking his mind no matter who he offends, and following through on his word.
“Trump is an amazing president. What he promises he makes to happen,” says Rami, 45, the owner of a luggage shop. “He doesn’t care about the opinion of other people. This is how the president of the biggest country in the world needs to act.”
I interviewed 20 Israeli Jews in West Jerusalem after the embassy move and the Gaza massacre this week, and there was near universal agreement that Trump is a strong leader and a man of action, qualities Israelis admire.
“I think it’s time for such a leader that is not politically correct, not a diplomat but when he says something he means it,” Devorah, a 60-year-old, told me. “Maybe it’s time [for a leader] to be less diplomat and more human being.”
“It’s hard to believe, but he has been very good to us, Trump,” Nehama, a well-coiffed 47 year old with her son, said. “We [Israelis] have never been in such good position in the world. I think God puts the words in his mouth. I believe there is someone who manages the world” – and Trump in that belief is the instrument.
“I thought Trump was an idiot,” Chaya, an American-Israeli of 60, confessed. “He has surpassed every expectation. Though he’s still a womanizer and a loudmouth.”
As Chaya did, a couple of Israelis said that Trump was an idiot, but even these Israelis said they admired his strength.
The Israelis were obviously pleased that Trump had moved the embassy as he had promised, and scrapped the Iran deal, too, another campaign promise. Their comments also reflect Israeli political culture, which has become far right in the last 10 years, with devotion to a strongman of their own, Benjamin Netanyahu.
And so the criticism and rage against Trump that you’d get in any big American city– and from most American Jews– is absent in Jerusalem. Indeed the Israeli praise for Trump is another sign that the two Jewish communities are dividing over political values.
Avraham Feld, 65, an American-Israeli wearing religious strings, said that Trump was the “worst nightmare” of the Democrats in his own American family. Yet he admires the man. “He’s already made history as one of the greatest American statesmen in history,” Feld said. “He went against his State Department on many issues. He’s choosing fact over fantasy when he puts the capital in Jerusalem.”
Others also praised Trump’s creativity. Miri, a religious woman of 53, said, “I like people that think outside the box. He believe what he do and he do it. He doesn’t care what people think.”
My method was hardly scientific. I spent three hours on the street and my respondents ranged from Labor to the rightwing religious parties; and love of Trump was universal. If the president ever crashes in America (if only!), he can come to Israel and go far.
Though an Israeli friend told me that Tel Aviv is the only city in the country that would not name a street after the American president. In Tel Aviv, he said, there is more disdain for the president.
A couple of Israelis expressed apprehension that Trump hadn’t given Netanyahu so much without a price: the president can now call Netanyahu and demand a settlement freeze or movement on the so-called two-state solution.
Though Rami, the shopowner, dismissed that fear. Trump doesn’t want a deal from Israel. “I don’t think it’s a relationship of give and take. Iran wants to make nuclear weapons, that is not good for Israel and not good for the world.” Rami sounded alot like Trump, and Netanyahu, too.