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Trump doesn’t think Israel policy will help him win PA and MI

Media Analysis
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The more Trump does for Israel, the more we hear from some analysts that he is doing this for Christian evangelical voters. Abe Silberstein writes this week that Trump bends over backwards for the Jewish state so as to win Pennsylvania and Wisconsin:

If the 2016 results are any indication, Trump can’t afford to even lose votes at the margin. The votes of a few thousand religious conservatives in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin will weigh heavily on whether he wants to release a [peace] plan that will, naturally, require some concessions from Israel, however minimal.

If this is the case, Donald Trump has not gotten the memo. Trump is, we would all agree, a master politician, and in the last week he has held big rallies in the crucial swing states of Michigan and Pennsylvania, and in both speeches, Israel was a throwaway. Trump rushed through the Israel script in his rally December 10 in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

I withdrew from the horrible, one-sided Iran nuclear deal, a disaster. I recognize Israel’s true capital and opened the American embassy in Jerusalem. For years you watched as your politicians apologized for America. Now you have a president who is standing up for America, and we are standing up for the people of Pennsylvania. You’ve never had that better year. Never

Trump’s speech last night in Battle Creek, Michigan, went on for two hours and was largely unscripted, and aimed at turning impeachment to political advantage. Israel was brief and scripted, the same as Pennsylvania:

I recognized Israel’s true capital and opened the American embassy in Jerusalem and we also recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights– a big deal. For years you watched as your politicians, apologized. Remember?

Trump did go on about Iran last night — “By the way I ended the Iran nuclear deal, I hope you’re happy” — but that was in the context of saying Barack Obama should have been impeached for ending some sanctions on Iran.

Nothing about his antisemitism order, or that Democrats are turning against Israel, a big theme of his speech to a Jewish audience in Florida December 7, with his biggest donors present, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson.

If Israel meant anything to the voters in Michigan and Pennsylvania, wouldn’t Trump have gone on about it, for even a fraction of how much he talked about gas prices, abortion, health care plans that rip babies from the womb, climate change, the terrible Paris climate accord, the yellow vests in France, lower taxes– any of the issues that he seems to think are going to move the swing states? I think so.

Last night he even went on about how much he’s done to clean up the water in Flint, MI. “Who were the geniuses who did that to you?… It hurt the people. We’re getting it fixed.” Trump knows how to connect with some voters, and Israel just isn’t one of those ways. Unless he’s speaking to a Jewish audience.

Thomas Friedman explained Trump’s motivation a few weeks ago in New York: “A huge check from Sheldon Adelson” and winning Jewish votes in Florida.

Apologies for the repetition; but here are some experts, mostly liberal Zionists, who say Trump is doing it for the evangelicals. Yossi Alpher at Peace Now. Ori Nir of Peace Now. David Rothkopf. Aaron David Miller and Dan Kurtzer in the Washington Post. And you can read Ido Aharoni, former Israeli consul, explaining that evangelicals just don’t care that much, here.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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14 Responses

  1. eljay on December 19, 2019, 1:57 pm

    … Trump is, we would all agree, a master politician …

    If a politician is a narcissist with intellect as small as his ego is large, yes, I agree that Trump is a master politician.

    I withdrew from the horrible, one-sided Iran nuclear deal, a disaster. I recognize Israel’s true capital and opened the American embassy in Jerusalem. For years you watched as your politicians apologized for America. Now you have a president who is standing up for America, and we are standing up for the people of Pennsylvania. You’ve never had that better year. Never

    He lists three things that have absolutely nothing to do with “standing up for” either America or the people of Pennsylvania. The guy really is an idiot…I mean, master politician.  ;-)

  2. Donald on December 19, 2019, 4:52 pm

    I don’t know about master politician. His personality as outrageous anti- politician has worked for him.

    A few lines about Israel are all he would need for rightwing evangelicals who care about that issue. If you knew anything about that culture from the inside ( which I do , as a teen long ago) you would know that in their eyes God wants America to support Israel. That’s all he needed to say. They know which side he is on and what he has done.

    On abortion and social issues that conservative Christians care about, traditional Republican politicians have had to keep their various factions together. The rich guys want their tax cuts and couldn’t care less about criminalizing abortion. But they need the votes of socially conservative not terribly rich Christians . So you promise conservative judges, nibble away at abortion rights, and talk about that. You also support coal and any other industries ( like fracking) that might employ some of the locals and you speak about climate change as a socialist plot by elites who hate blue collar whites. I haven’t watched the speeches, but I assume he said things like this.

    The liberal Zionists you mention ( and others) like to overstate Christian Zionist influence, but you like to understate it.

  3. Keith on December 19, 2019, 5:19 pm

    PHIL “The more Trump does for Israel, the more we hear from some analysts that he is doing this for Christian evangelical voters.”

    Perhaps that is why the residents of Israel refer to it as the Christian evangelical state.

  4. JWalters on December 19, 2019, 7:50 pm

    I too have noticed Trump’s references to Israel in his speeches seem short and almost perfunctory.

    I think the “liberal” Zionists claim Trump is sucking up to Adelson and Israel for the Evangelicals because they don’t want to focus on Adelson’s and Israel’s obvious, huge influence on Trump. That could bring up Israel’s huge influence on the Democrats (without the Evangelicals). And that could bring up Israel’s huge influence on the corporate press (without the Evangelicals). Which could bring up Israel’s huge influence on America’s regime change wars. Everybody’s trying to keep this gigantic mastodon under the radar, at Israel’s behest.

    • Citizen on December 20, 2019, 2:24 pm

      Yes. & is it not amazing that Tulsi Gabbard is running against regime change wars agenda without even mentioning Israel Lobby?

      • JWalters on December 22, 2019, 7:36 pm

        I’d guess it’s for the same reason almost everybody else keeps their heads down on the Israeli front. I see numerous people gradually creeping toward the truth. But nobody wants to just jump up and get savagely ruined, or worse. So there will be a gradual building of public awareness, until a tipping point is reached, and then a brigade of truth-tellers will bring the whole sordid story pouring out.

        Tulsi did mention “neocons” (i.e. Israelis) in this recent interview with Jimmy Dore. “Whistleblower Proves Tulsi RIGHT On Syria & Afghanistan War” At 11:30 in video.

        By the way, this is an excellent interview on a very important story that is getting WAY too little attention in the corporate press.

  5. dx on December 20, 2019, 3:46 am

    I live in a red Southern state. Many people I know are Republicans, Christian (evangelical and non-evangelical), and big Trump fans. From my conversations with them, they mostly know Israel from the Bible–not as a political issue. When I mention how much foreign aid the US gives to Israel, they get angry–as in “Why are we giving them all that money? Why do they need it?” This tracks with Trump’s negative views on foreign aid–he seems to be really against giving money to other countries and constantly complains other that country’s are not contributing enough, etc. The only exception I can think of is Israel. He never rails against money for Israel. Or mentions it at all.

    People I know generally have very little awareness of Israel and its importance to American politics. They think of Israel in context of its place in the Bible. They have no particular thoughts on the treatment of Palestinians because they don’t know about it. When I describe it, they seem surprised–it’s new information. The are also morally offended. Same reaction when I talk about BDS and the laws being passed in the US to combat it. They just don’t know anything about it. But when I talk about it, it’s a pretty clear cut and dried First Amendment issue to them. Afterall, they boycott various things themselves. I think we all do that.

    Oh–I’m not Jewish. I got interested in this from reading Jimmy Carter’s book and because I had a pen pal from Israel. And there was so much that was just so clearly wrong. You rarely get that in life.

    I think popular opinion will shift once more people outside of the Jewish community are aware of what’s going on.

    (From my own perspective, I find it interesting to read lists of all the countries that provided support of any kind in our most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Israel is nowhere to be found on those lists. Oh what a friend we have.)

    • Donald on December 20, 2019, 10:32 am

      So none of your evangelical friends think we are in the last days? Because that’s the belief system that is usually connected to support for Israel. People who believe n the Rapture and the Tribulation and all that stuff also believe Israel is central to everything they think is supposed to happen.

    • echinococcus on December 20, 2019, 10:57 am


      “I think popular opinion will shift once more people outside of the Jewish community are aware of what’s going on.”

      Thank you.

      You seem to be one of the very few voices of sanity in the “solidarity movement” at large that otherwise seems fixated on the idea that a mostly Zionist minority of 3% leading a minority of so-called liberals, who systematically antagonize the general population, is likely to achieve a turnaround.

      You may have to face derision, put-downs and the usual problems of the non-PC for being right, though: the people who wrote what you just told us on their very shingle (“If Americans Knew”) have been effectively excommunicated by the tribal-based “non-Zionist” witch hunters.

      • Citizen on December 20, 2019, 2:49 pm

        RE: “I think popular opinion will shift once more people outside of the Jewish community are aware of what’s going on.”

        When will that be? Another 50 years?

  6. nrhunter on December 20, 2019, 9:59 am

    Trump does not have to court the evangelical vote because there is a cadre of TV preachers who continually pump him up as ‘God’s choice’. It is rare to see any criticism of Trump from that corner. The Christian Zionist wing has dominated the conversation and continually push the ‘Trump as saviour’ agenda.
    However, December’s issue of the influential Christianity Today magazine has an interesting editorial.
    The editorial concludes as follows:
    “To use an old cliché, it’s time to call a spade a spade, to say that no matter how many hands we win in this political poker game, we are playing with a stacked deck of gross immorality and ethical incompetence. And just when we think it’s time to push all our chips to the center of the table, that’s when the whole game will come crashing down. It will crash down on the reputation of evangelical religion and on the world’s understanding of the gospel. And it will come crashing down on a nation of men and women whose welfare is also our concern.”
    Many of my friends in the evangelical community have been saying this since 2016. It is gratifying to hear it from a source with some influence.

    • Citizen on December 20, 2019, 2:39 pm

      This Christianity Today magazine issue attacking Trump as immoral has been on CNN & MSNBC news today. Israel is not mentioned.

  7. Misterioso on December 20, 2019, 10:23 am


    The Atlantic, Dec. 19/19, by Emma Green

    “How Trump Lost an Evangelical Stalwart”

    “‘The editor in chief of Christianity Today explains his scathing editorial about the president’s behavior—and the damage he argues his fellow Christians are doing to the Gospel.

    “Evangelicals just received an ultimatum: ‘Abandon President Donald Trump, or betray your brothers and sisters in Christ.’

    “Christianity Today—the magazine founded by the famous preacher Billy Graham, and the long time forum for mainstream evangelical thought—has published an editorial calling for Trump to be removed from the White House. The editor in chief, Mark Galli, acknowledged that ‘the typical CT [Christianity Today] approach is to stay above the fray and allow Christians with different political convictions to make their arguments in the public square.’ But the facts are ‘unambiguous,’ Galli wrote. ‘The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.’

    “What’s significant about Galli’s statement is how directly he makes the case that his fellow Christians have a responsibility to call out Trump’s immoral behavior. Otherwise, he writes, they risk damaging their ability to share the Gospel with the world. Christians have been divided over Trump since he became a serious presidential candidate in 2016. Now, less than a month away from retirement, Galli wants them to unite against the president.

    “I spoke with Galli shortly after his editorial was published this evening. Our conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.

    “Emma Green: ‘Why did you feel called to publish this editorial?’

    “Mark Galli: ‘One of my main goals for the last three or four years is to have evangelicals on the left and the right, pro-Trump and anti-Trump, learn to listen to each other, to be caring to one another, to understand one another. I think our unity in Christ is much more important than our fusion in politics.’

    “‘I have friends who voted for Trump for strong, prudential reasons. They’re very much pro-life, very much pro–religious freedom. They said, ‘Well, we can put up with his moral problems, because he’s delivering on things that are really important to us.’ So, you know, I grant that.’

    “‘I don’t think it was until the impeachment hearings that there was some sort of smoking gun that was just unambiguously clear. The Mueller investigation was so confusing. It was hard to tell what was legal or illegal, moral or immoral. I just don’t know how that world works. But with the impeachment hearings, it became absolutely clear that he tried to use his power as the president to manipulate a foreign leader into getting dirt on his political enemies. That’s unconstitutional, and it’s immoral. So it was kind of a clear moment.’

    “‘I’ve been thinking, in the last week, whether we should address that. I recalled that in the Clinton era and the Nixon era, when it became absolutely clear about the immoral improprieties of the president, we said that this person is no longer fit for office. That was weighing on me, and I thought maybe it was time for us to do this.’

    “‘I started with the notion: Okay, we’re going to do this like CT: ‘On the one hand. On the other hand… Let’s try to understand each other.’ But then I thought, I’m not going to do that. I’m just going to say what I think the reality is that we have to open our eyes to.’

    “‘And it was done in an hour.’

    “Green: ‘I was struck by how directly you called on your fellow evangelicals to be honest about what you see as Trump’s misconduct. You wrote, ‘Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency.’ That’s very, very direct. Were you at all worried about how other Christians may hear or read those words?'”

    “Galli: ‘Not too much. I know some will read it very negatively. They’ll consider me partisan, that I’m a closet Democrat—which I’m not. I’m independent. They’re going to say that Trump appoints pro-life justices; he’s working for religious freedom. And it occurred to me today, as I was writing the editorial, that the ‘on the one hand, on the other hand’ logic of whether you’re going to support Trump or not—that falls apart at some point.’

    “Green: ‘One of the things that you seem most concerned about in the editorial is the reputation of evangelicalism—of Christianity—and the damage that this association with Trump might do to Christian witness.’

    “‘I wonder how much that motivates you—your belief that the association with Trump is going to do long-term damage to the ability of Christians to share the Gospel.’

    “Galli: ‘Oh my God. It’s going to be horrific’

    “‘We’ve been a movement that has said the moral character of our leaders is really important. And if they fail in that department, they can’t be a good influence. That’s what CT said when Nixon’s immoralities were discovered. That’s what we said when Clinton’s immoralities were discovered. And one of the reasons I thought we should say it now is because it’s pretty clear that this is the case with Donald Trump.’

    “‘Unfortunately, a number of my brothers and sisters will just defend him to the end. They somehow think that’s going to be a good witness to the Gospel. It’s unimaginable to me how they think that, but they do. And I just think it’s a big mistake.'”

    “‘It isn’t the first time in church history that the church has been divided. It’s been divided over very important things. So I am a great believer in the providence of God, and that he will, in his grace, mercy, and mysterious judgment, help us through this period. It’s not my responsibility to heal the breach among evangelicals. It’s not my responsibility to bring peace to the world. My responsibility, given the position I have, whatever it might be, is to speak the truth. If it makes a difference, I am thankful to God. And if it doesn’t make a difference, that’s kind of up to him.'”

  8. wondering jew on December 22, 2019, 2:33 am

    Americans in large numbers do not care about foreign policy, except when American troops die on the ground there, and even if it turns out to be true that the cause and effect of israel has led to the wars where us soldiers have died it is still a leap beyond normal american political consciousness to focus on israel to the point of knowledge and understanding policy dynamics, such consciousness is not to be expected. Change in us policy will occur when the left wing of the democrat party elects a president. The closest it has come was obama, and his grasp on power was feeble with a republican majority in both house and senate after 2010, so it will take a left president and a solid democrat majority in congress for there to be a plausible dynamic of us policy change.
    a us or israel versus iran war obviously presents a different scenario for event caused radical change.

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