Israel did not come up in Trump’s town hall last night (and briefly in Biden’s). But in going over Trump’s rally speeches over the last six weeks, I find that he always brings Israel policy up at the top of his foreign policy remarks and brags about breaking the Iran deal and moving the embassy to Jerusalem.
Trump claims that he has made peace in the Middle East, as Democrats failed to do, and that he deserves the Nobel Prize– or maybe he’s already won it. That part’s a bit confusing! And he says U.S. troops can come home when Israel has peace.
The president has so far made little headway among Jewish voters– they are still overwhelmingly Democratic — but Trump attacks Democrats for living in “a whole different world” on Israel, and he says evangelicals “love” his Israel actions.
Here’s a rapid tour (per online transcript services). Two night back, in Des Moines, Trump gave his boilerplate on the Iran deal: a “catastrophe.”
I withdrew from the last administration’s disastrous Iran nuclear catastrophe, $150 billion, $1.8 billion in cash for nothing. That deal’s practically expiring now, anyway, if we didn’t terminate it.
On October 12, in Sanford, FL, Trump said he only realized how powerful the presidency was because of the Iran deal.
[Iran said,] ‘President Obama, give us $150 billion and we’ll give you nothing…That’s when I realized how powerful the presidency is, when you could do that.
Donald Trump said he “broke” the deal, and that an Iran broken by sanctions will be on its knees if he wins.
But we broke the deal, and I’ll tell you probably the first call I’ll get after we win the election will be from Iran dying to make a deal because they’re down 28% GDP, nobody’s ever heard of a thing like that.
Here’s his boilerplate on the Jerusalem embassy.
I kept my promise, recognized the true capital of Israel and opened the American embassy in Jerusalem. And every president promised to do it. Every president said they were going to do that for many, many decades… Nobody did it because once they got in office, there was a lot of pressure on you not to do it. I could tell you, I was called by every foreign leader, “Please don’t do it. Please don’t do-”
Trump’s boilerplate on the Golan Heights–
I also recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. 52 years they’ve been working on that. They’ve been working on that for 52 years. They couldn’t get anything. Every year, people would fly in, stay, wine, dine, have a good time and leave. Nothing would happen. 52 years. I got it done in one day.
That leads to the Nobel Prize, Trump’s claim that he’s forged peace in the Middle East and he’s won or been nominated for the Nobel Prize but the news media won’t cover it.
Instead of these endless wars, we’re forging peace in the Middle East and peace without blood all over the sand, and you see what’s happening. In fact, a point that they didn’t report, I’ve been, I guess three or four, maybe now, Nobel Peace Prizes. Can you believe it? Four, three…. I told my wife… I just got nominated for the Nobel Prize. And then I turned on the fake news. Story after story. They talk about your weather in the panhandle run. They talk about this… No mention. Remember, when Obama got it right at the beginning and he didn’t even know why he got it? It was the biggest story you’ve ever seen.
Similarly confused, CNN writes, “Trump seems to think he has already won the Nobel Peace Prize,” and explains how you get a Nobel nomination.
In Pittsburgh last month, Trump went off on the Democrats over Israel.
The Democrats in Congress, you have to see what they are doing. Their stance on Israel, it’s like a whole different world. It’s like from 10 years ago, it’s like a different world and we want to keep our world the way it was and the way it’s going to be.
Democrats kill people, Trump makes peace.
We just negotiated a major peace deal in the Middle East. Everyone said it was impossible. You know that, right? They said it’s impossible. They’ve been killing everybody for years and years, they had this guy, John Kerry, who’s grossly incompetent.
In Newport News, Va., last month, he bragged on his Nobel Prize nominations (“it was a great honor”) and kept up the attacks on former secretary of state John Kerry.
The Israel– everybody said it couldn’t be done. And they were right. It couldn’t be done the way they were doing it. You would have never gotten it done. The way John Kerry was doing it, you would have never gotten it done. That’s a guy that doesn’t have a clue, incompetent.
In Middletown, Pennsylvania, last month (outside Harrisburg) Trump said that evangelicals love his policy the most.
I kept my promise, recognized the true capital of Israel, and opened the American embassy in Jerusalem. You know who likes that the most? Evangelicals like it the most. You know that? Evangelicals love it. We were just with Franklin Graham and a lot of great people. They had a very successful event at the Mall today.
Though Trump’s ambassador to Israel also loves Israel, Trump said in Fayetteville last month:
I called David Friedman. He’s our ambassador, he’s one of the most successful lawyers in New York. He’s a brilliant guy. He loves Israel. Right? Love Israel.
In Bemidji, Minnesota, last month, Trump said the Democrats were “bad… to Israel.”
And then people automatically vote. It’s like a habit. [Even though] the Democrat was so bad to you. And how bad were the Democrats to Israel? We did Jerusalem, right? We broke up the Iran deal, right? And then they vote for a Democrat. It’s out of habit, but I think the habits, we’re breaking those habits very quickly. … If you look at what we’ve done for Israel, it’s been incredible. They say nobody’s done more. And it’s my honor.
Sometimes it sounds like Trump is bragging for an audience of one, rightwing pro-Israel megadonor Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino mogul. In Henderson, Nevada, on September 13, Trump also used the “good for Israel” line.
I withdrew from the last administration’s disastrous Iran nuclear deal. So good for Israel. So good that we did that.
The fact is, we don’t have to be in the Middle East other than we want to protect Israel. We’ve been very good to Israel. But other than that, we don’t have to be in the Middle East… There was a time we needed [oil] desperately, we don’t need that anymore. We have more than they do, isn’t that nice?
He offered the same analysis in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, on September 3. He bragged about Tom Friedman’s approval of the Israel-UAE deal (not so different from Biden’s praise for the deal last night). Then Trump said the only reason we have troops in the Middle East is “called Israel” and if Israel has peace, the soldiers can come home.
We achieved the first breakthrough in Middle East peace in decades, a deal with Israel and the UAE…
You’ll have peace in the Middle East. We want to get the hell out. Let’s get them all back. … Don’t forget, we’re energy independent. There used to be a reason. Now we do have a reason, it’s called Israel, and we have some very good partnerships over there. In all fairness we have some countries that have treated us very well and we’re going to take care of those countries, but we are energy independent for the first time and that’s a very good feeling.
In sum, Israel is an important talking point for Trump on the campaign trail. He seems to believe it will rally evangelical voters, please Sheldon Adelson, and win over some conservative Jewish Democrats. Though the latest polling shows Trump getting 27 percent among Jews, well below what he needs to turn the tables in a few swing states.