About 750 boisterous Jewish supporters of the Republican Party gathered in Las Vegas this past weekend to hear from potential Republican presidential candidates, along with current elected officials, with the focus on the GOP’s goal of taking back the Congress and Senate in the 2022 midterms, and the White House in 2024.
Speaker after speaker at this year’s Republican Jewish Coalition conference, which was canceled last year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, accused the Biden administration of failing on many issues but especially on damaging the strong US-Israel ties developed under the Trump administration, while also showing weakness against Iran as they pursue nuclear weapons.
At the conference, optimism over the upcoming 2022 midterm elections was expressed, following last week’s gains by the Republican Party in state elections, especially with the surprise victory of Glenn Youngkin as GOP governor of Virginia.
During a pre-taped message by Donald Trump, the former president said that “no president has ever been a better friend to the State of Israel, and I am proud of that.”
He went on to list his administration’s accomplishments, including moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Trump slammed the Biden administration for showing weakness on Iran, thus putting the Jewish state in danger. Trump said that President Joe Biden’s “unbelievable weakness toward the Iranian regime directly provoked a missile attack on Israeli civilians,” referring to the thousands of rockets fired by Hamas at Israel this past May.
“Biden shamefully criticized and slandered the nation of Israel even when it was under attack,” he said.
While Trump loomed large over the conference and has yet to signal if we will run for president in 2024, several of the other speakers at the conference included presidential hopefuls for 2024, making their pitches to a friendly audience.
Former Vice President Mike Pence told the crowd, “Make no mistake about it, President Joe Biden has turned his back on Israel,” citing the current administration’s desire to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), that the Trump administration pulled out of in May 2018.
He also took Biden to task for planning to open a consulate for the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem, a move he said was illegal, by establishing a diplomatic mission for a foreign entity in Israel’s capital. Pence called on Congress to intervene in order to prevent the move.
Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley received an exceptionally warm welcome as she reinforced her support for Israel, citing how under her watch the Trump administration pulled out of the United Nation’s Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for unfairly singling out and condemning Israel each time it convened. Under the Biden administration, the United States recently rejoined the UNHRC.
Haley also expressed her admiration for the pro-Israel Washington lobby AIPAC but encouraged the body to distance itself from politicians who support policies harmful to Israel.
“I have spoken at AIPAC events many times, and they’ve always been unbelievably supportive to me,” she said. “If a politician supports the disastrous Iran deal, opposes moving the American embassy to Jerusalem and is embraced by anti-Semites who support the BDS movement, then your pro-Israel group should have absolutely nothing to do with him.”
In addition to focusing on Israel, many of the speakers took the Biden administration to task on domestic issues, including education, critical race theory, personal liberties and freedoms during the COVID-19 pandemic and more.
Other notable speakers at the event included Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.), along with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Israel’s former Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer.
Christie, a two-term governor from New Jersey who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2016, urged Republicans to look forward and not back.
“We can no longer talk about the past and past elections,” said Christie. “No matter where you stand on that  election — no matter where you stand, it is over. Every minute that we spend talking about 2020, all the wasted time that we’re there, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are laying ruin to this country.”
In his remarks to the conference, DeSantis, who has gained national popularity and is viewed as being a possible Republican frontrunner for the 2024 presidential election, touted his achievements in office.
“In the state of Florida, I am walking that line. I am standing my ground. I’m not backing down,” he said. “We’ve done an awful lot in the state of Florida. We have a lot more to do, and I have only begun to fight.”
The Florida governor, who is up for re-election next year, took aim at the Biden administration over its vaccine and other COVID-related mandates, as well as his border policies. At the same time, he pointed fingers at the far-left in the Democratic Party, saying “the woke are anti-Semitic. They are anti-Israel.”