WASHINGTON — A week before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives in Washington for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, a new campaign by the Jewish group J Street is spotlighting the similarities between him and U.S. President Donald Trump.
The video campaign, unveiled on Monday, three weeks before the Israeli election, shows clips from the two leaders' speeches and the news that emphasize how alike their viewpoints are on issues like democracy, racism and the rule of law. It urges Americans who support Israel to challenge Netanyahu as they do Trump.
In one clip, Trump describes the investigations revolving around him and some of his closest aides as a “witch hunt.” The video then shows Netanyahu using similar language to attack the corruption investigations against him. Another clip shows parallel statements by the two leaders about minorities and immigration.
The video campaign wraps up by appealing to viewers: “For two years, Americans have stood up and fought back when Trump attacks vulnerable minorities and erodes trust in democratic institutions. Pro-Israel Americans shouldn’t hesitate to stand up and speak out when Netanyahu does the same.”
“By attacking democratic institutions and targeting vulnerable minorities, Trump and Netanyahu are borrowing from the same far-right playbook, undermining the core values and interests of both the U.S. and Israel,” said J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami in a statement.
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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Israel and meet with the prime minister this week as part of a tour of the region. The move is widely seen as an attempt to boost Netanyahu’s political standing. The State Department stated that the visit is taking place in order for Pompeo and Netanyahu to discuss Iran, anti-Semitism and regional energy issues. Pompeo will not be seeing any other political party leaders during his brief visit to Israel.
Trump and Netanyahu will meet at the White House next week. The U.S. president is expected to make a public statement that will bolster Netanyahu’s re-election campaign before Israelis go to the polls on April 9.
The Trump administration has officially stated that it is not trying to influence the election, but Netanyahu’s rivals from across the political map are reportedly preparing for a last-minute “election gift” that Trump will provide to his right-wing ally.
For instance, Channel 13’s Barak Ravid reported recently that Netanyahu’s main rival, Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz, believes Trump could recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights this month in an effort to help the Likud leader.