President Donald Trump delivered a 45-minute speech to the Israeli American Council (IAC) in Hollywood, Florida on Saturday night. Trump spoke about his administration’s decisions to pull out of the JCPOA Iran nuclear deal, move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, eliminate funding for the Palestinian Authority, and more, all delivered with interjections of the Trump humor, which many liberals still don’t get.
He gave a dig to those who voted for Barack Obama despite the former president’s hatred of Israel.
“So many of you voted for people in the last administration. Someday you’ll have to explain that to me because I don’t think they liked Israel too much,” Trump said, following up with another truism: “The Jewish State has never had a better friend in the White House than your president, Donald J. Trump. After eight long years in which our alliance was undermined and neglected, I’m happy to report that the United States–Israeli relationship is stronger now than ever before.”
Then he made an uncomfortable but valid statement, “You have people that are Jewish people, that are great people — they don’t love Israel enough.”
He told a funny story about the pressure he received before announcing a decision whether to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
“I was inundated — I learned why other presidents, in all fairness to them, why they made the campaign promise but why they never got it off: Because they were besieged by foreign leaders. The top, the biggest people in the world, called them. You wouldn’t believe how many; some countries you never even heard of were calling.
“And about a week and a half out, I said, ‘Listen, tell these people I’m going to call them back. I’m so busy.’ I said, ‘Tell them I’m going to call them back. I’ll get to them as soon as I can.’ And one week went by, and then three days went by, and then I made the announcement at the White House that we’re moving the embassy to Jerusalem and that Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel.”
Trump said he returned the foreign leaders’ calls after his announcement of the move wasn’t followed by predicted violence. When they objected to the move of the embassy to Jerusalem, the president told them he wished he had the time to talk to them before his announcement, but he was too busy. Now it was too late the deed was done, and there was none of the predicted violence.
Trump mentioned his other pro-Israel and pro-Jewish decisions —recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Israel’s absolute right to self-defense, signing the deal to withhold U.S. dollars from the Palestinian Authority until it stops rewarding terrorists with blood money, and his pulling out of the horrible JCPOA Iran deal and crippling the Iran economy with new sanctions.
Turning to politics and his re-election, Trump repeated points he’s been making at every political rally over the past few months. However, far-left Jewish organizations such Jewish Democratic Council of America, which promotes the Democratic Party and the anti-Israel J Street, claimed Trump was uttering anti-Semitic tropes because they incorrectly assumed his speech was written exclusively for this audience.
Speaking about how his ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, searched for a place to put the embassy in Jerusalem, he commented that despite his lifelong involvement in real estate he got little of the Jewish vote in 2016.
“A lot of you are in the real estate business because I know you very well,” Trump said. You’re brutal killers. Not nice people at all. But you have to vote for me; you have no choice. You’re not going to vote for Pocahontas [his standard dig at Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren], I can tell you that. You’re not going to vote for the wealth tax. ‘Yeah, let’s take 100 percent of your wealth away.’ No, no. Even if you don’t like me, some of you don’t. Some of you I don’t like at all, actually. And you’re going to be my biggest supporters because you’ll be out of business in about 15 minutes, if they get it. So, I don’t have to spend a lot of time on that.”
Far-left groups like the Jewish Democratic Council claimed this paragraph used “negative stereotypes that have been used historically to target Jews,” The Hill reported.
But Trump was not using negative stereotypes against Jews; most of his words were self-deprecating humor about real estate moguls just like he was before he ran for office. As far as the 100 percent, the president may have been referring to a Nov. 15 Wall Street Journal report explaining that if Warren’s wealth tax were implemented, some wealthy people would be paying more than 100 percent of their income in taxes.
Overall, the president was funny, and the crowd ate it up. Perhaps the far-left Jewish groups need to find a sense of humor.
Trump spoke of his fight against anti-Semitism, stating that “throughout history, anti-Semitism has produced untold pain, suffering evil, and destruction. We must not ignore the vile poison or those who spread its venomous creed.”
“My administration is committed to aggressively challenging and confronting anti-Semitic bigotry in every resource, and using every single weapon at our disposal,” he said.
As examples, Trump pointed to leaving the anti-Semitic UN Human Rights Council. And the administration’s fight against the BDS movement. He brought up Adela Cojab, a recent NYU graduate who faced anti-Semitism there. Cojab said this:
My university failed to protect its Jewish community from ongoing harassment, from attacks on social media, to resolutions on student government, to boycotts, flag burnings, and physical assault. … They gave an anti-Israel hate group the President Service Award, the highest honor you can receive as a group on campus.
“I was notified my case was accepted by the Department of Education, and an investigation has been launched against NYU for failure to protect this community.
To all of the students in the audience today, don’t be afraid to stand up, because you deserve better. And as an immigrant myself from Mexico City, I am extremely thankful to live in a country where the Office of Civil Rights takes the concerns of Jewish students seriously. Thank you, Mr. President.”
Trump went on to discuss support within the Democratic Party for BDS and anti-Semitism, something that’s been covered in this column often.
“My administration strongly opposes this despicable rhetoric,” he said. “As long as I’m your President, it makes no difference. It’s not happening. Okay? It stops at my desk.”
He then introduced Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Elan Carr for a few words.
The final section of his speech was my personal favorite because Trump spoke of, and gave examples of, Jewish Americans’ love of their country which, coming after his discussion of anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party, seemed like a subtle rebuke of the dual loyalty canard.
“From America’s earliest days, Jewish citizens have made some of the greatest and most extraordinary contributions to American life and culture. Jewish Americans have fought, bled, and died at every major American war dating back to our struggle for independence,” he said.
As examples, Trump began by telling the story of Master Sergeant Meyer Levin, who was among the first Americans to bomb a Japanese warship and in his final mission sacrificed his life to save the other people on his plane.
The president’s final example was of a young Jewish American soldier stationed at Camp Upton in Yaphank on Long Island. In 1918 he wrote a prayer in the form of a song. It was Irving Berlin.
“He did not release the song until 1938, as the world learned of Hitler’s evil atrocities against the Jewish people. On Nov. 10th of that year, his song broadcast through the radio and into the homes all across the country. Millions and millions of people were inspired. It was the first time Americans heard Irving Berlin’s timeless hymn, ‘G-d Bless America’.”
Early in his speech, Trump said, “The Jewish State has never had a better friend in the White House than your president, Donald J. Trump.” After evaluating all the pro-Israel policies described in his speech to the Israeli American Council, one would be hard-pressed to disagree.