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.