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Israel Looks to Trump to Make Good on His Campaign Promises the Day After Jewish Americans Voted for Clinton

Israel and American Jewish voters perceived Trump very differently.

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“President-elect Trump is a true friend of the state of Israel.” So said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, hours after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States.

And many of Trump’s comments over the course of this presidential election cycle indeed suggested he would be a friend to Israel, at least insofar as Netanyahu’s right-wing government understands friendship. Netanyahu campaigned against the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal; Trump called it “the stupidest deal of all time.” Netanyahu approved $18 million for settlements on the West Bank in June; Trump, who originally said he would stay “neutral” in Palestinian-Israeli matters, said in May he believed settlement construction should “keep going” (the Obama administration had tried to pressure Netanyahu to press pause to make Palestinian authorities amenable to negotiation). And Trump has said he will reverse traditional U.S. policy by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and moving the U.S. Embassy there.

That last promise is one Israeli authorities expect him to keep -- and one Trump advisor, David Friedman, says he will. Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “was a campaign promise, and there is every intention to keep it,” Friedman said Wednesday. “We are going to see a very different relationship between America and Israel in a positive way.”

“President-elect Trump is a true friend of the state of Israel.” So said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, hours after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States.

And many of Trump’s comments over the course of this presidential election cycle indeed suggested he would be a friend to Israel, at least insofar as Netanyahu’s right-wing government understands friendship. Netanyahu campaigned against the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal; Trump called it “the stupidest deal of all time.” Netanyahu approved $18 million for settlements on the West Bank in June; Trump, who originally said he would stay “neutral” in Palestinian-Israeli matters, said in May he believed settlement construction should “keep going” (the Obama administration had tried to pressure Netanyahu to press pause to make Palestinian authorities amenable to negotiation). And Trump has said he will reverse traditional U.S. policy by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and moving the U.S. Embassy there.

That last promise is one Israeli authorities expect him to keep — and one Trump advisor, David Friedman, says he will. Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “was a campaign promise, and there is every intention to keep it,” Friedman said Wednesday. “We are going to see a very different relationship between America and Israel in a positive way.”

And, indeed, while there is some suspicion Netanyahu and his circle believed Hillary Clinton would win (which, to be fair, most everyone else did, too), a poll last March showed Trump was Israel’s favorite GOP candidate, and that a plurality believed he would be best — including against Clinton — at “representing Israel’s interests.”

This is a very different stance than that taken by America’s Jewish citizens at the polls this Election Day. After a campaign in which Trump tweeted out what many believed to be the Star of David over piles of money; received the endorsement of David Duke; and put out what many believed to be a highly anti-Semitic final ad (and also spoke at length about religious discrimination), 71 percent of Jewish Americans voted for Hillary Clinton — up 2 percent from 2012.

Photo credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Emily Tamkin is the U.S. editor of the New Statesman and the author of The Influence of Soros, published July 2020. Twitter: @emilyctamkin

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