US President Donald Trump on Saturday said that Israel has never had a better friend in the White House than him, because, unlike his predecessors, “I kept my promises.”
Trump energized an audience that numbered in the hundreds at the Israeli American Council National Summit in Hollywood, Florida, by recounting his record on issues of importance to Jews, including an extensive riff on his promise to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and relocate the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.
Trump said his predecessors only paid lip service to the issue.
“They never had any intention of doing it, in my opinion,” he said. “But unlike other presidents, I kept my promises.”
Trump also highlighted his decision to reverse more than a half-century of US policy in the Middle East by recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the strategic highlands on the border with Syria.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War, but its sovereignty over the territory had not been recognized by the international community.
In his speech, Trump also claimed there are some Jewish people in the US who do not love Israel enough.
“We have to get the people of our country, of this country, to love Israel more, I have to tell you that. We have to do it. We have to get them to love Israel more,” Trump said, to some applause. “Because you have Jewish people that are great people — they don’t love Israel enough.”
Aaron Keyak, the former head of the National Jewish Democratic Council, denounced Trump’s remarks as anti-Semitic.
“Trump’s insistence on using anti-Semitic tropes when addressing Jewish audiences is dangerous and should concern every member of the Jewish community — even Jewish Republicans,” Keyak said.
Trump has been accused of trafficking in anti-Semitic stereotypes before, including in August, when he said American Jews who vote for Democrats show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”
A number of Jewish groups said at the time that accusations of disloyalty have long been made against Jews.
Trump criticized Israel’s sworn enemy, Iran, saying that he withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal because Tehran must never be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon.
However, he voiced support for Iranians who have been protesting a decision by their government to withdraw fuel subsidies, which sent prices skyrocketing.
Trump said he believes thousands of Iranians have been killed in the protests and that thousands more have been arrested.
“America will always stand with the Iranian people in their righteous struggle for freedom,” he said.
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