President Donald Trump told a pro-Israel group in South Florida on Saturday night that Israel “has never had a better friend in the White House” than him, but that some American Jews “don’t love Israel enough.”
Trump was addressing the the Israeli-American Council (AIC), a relatively new organization founded by Israeli immigrants to America, whose views are not always represented by established American Jewish organizations.
Speaking at the Diplomat resort in Hollywood, Florida — less than an hour south of Mar-a-Lago, where he recently made his vacation home into his official private residence — Trump touted his record on Israel before an audience of roughly 4,000 people waving U.S. and Israeli flags.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported:
He started his roughly hourlong speech by offering condolences to the families of the three people killed in an attack on the Navy air base in Pensacola.
Trump called peace in the Middle East “the toughest of all deals.” But he added: If his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner couldn’t get it done, “it can’t be done.” He told supporters he delivered on his promise to move the embassy, bragging that it was constructed with Jerusalem stone.
“You’ve got a beautiful embassy, it’s in Jerusalem and you have something you’ve always wanted,” he said.
He vowed tough action on Iran, saying U.S. sanctions have crippled the nation’s economy. He also took a shot at predecessor Barack Obama’s administration, saying, “I don’t think they liked Israel too much.” He said the U.S. Israeli-American relationship is now “stronger than ever before,” but work needs to be done to get Americans “to love Israel more.”
He reportedly added: “You have people that are Jewish people, that are great people, they don’t love Israel enough.”
The president was likely referring to surveys showing that Israel is a low priority for American Jewish voters, who lean left. Republicans often tout their strong support for Israel in appealing to Jewish voters, but Jewish Democrats in particular tend to emphasize other issues.
Some left-wing Jewish Democrats argue that Trump’s policies actually endanger Israel, because they believe peace with the Palestinians is necessary for Israel’s security. However, many Israelis have come to believe in recent years that Palestinians simply do not want a peace agreement.
One Trump supporter customized a Lamborghini, which was parked outside the event, to celebrate the president and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
Lamborghini spotted by my brother-in-law in Miami. pic.twitter.com/IOgHh5U5oJ
— Alexander Nazaryan (@alexnazaryan) December 7, 2019
Others in attendance at the conference included the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández:
— Adam & Gila Milstein Family Foundation (@MilsteinFF) December 8, 2019
Honduras has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, following Trump’s lead. However, it has not yet moved its embassy to Jerusalem.
Trump was given a menorah, a traditional lamp lit during the upcoming Jewish holiday of Chanukah, by billionaire Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam. Adelson is among the financial supporters of IAC.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.