Trump Set to Speak Before Thousands of Jews and Israelis at Adelson-backed Conference

President to deliver keynote address in rare appearance before Jewish organizations

Danielle Ziri
Amir Tibon
New York
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IAC Co-founder and CEO Shoham Nicolet addresses the opening plenary at the IAC National Summit, December 5, 2019.
IAC Co-founder and CEO Shoham Nicolet addresses the opening plenary at the IAC National Summit, December 5, 2019. Credit: Noam Galai
Danielle Ziri
Amir Tibon
New York

NEW YORK — U.S. President Donald Trump will speak before some 4,000 Israelis and American Jews at the annual conference of the Israeli-American Council on Saturday evening in Florida. 

The IAC is an organization funded by one of Trump's supporters, Jewish-American billionaire Sheldon Adelson, and presents itself as a voice for the Israeli-American community.

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Adelson reportedly donated tens of millions of dollars to GOP candidates in 2016, making him the party's major donor.

The president will deliver his keynote address on the third night of the conference, themed “Israel Together," although the organization describes itself as “non-political." Trump is expected to discuss the relationship between Israel and the United States. 

Yonatan Winetraub, Co-Founder of SpaceIL speaking at the IAC National Summit.Credit: Noam Galai

"It is an honor for us to host the president of the United States,” Co-founder and CEO of the IAC Shoham Nicolet said. "This is great news not only for our organization but for the entire pro-Israel community in America, which supports unwavering ties between the United States and Israel.

“The [organization's] coast-to-coast community is becoming the bridge, the gateway, and the driving force within Jewish America, fostering a deep connection to Israel,” Nicolet said at the opening plenary on Thursday night. “It is time for us to shift our focus from differences and rifts to the endless possibilities and opportunities when we come together. This is what the IAC is all about.” 

During Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, he spoke at the annual gathering of AIPAC, the most powerful pro-Israel lobby group in Washington.

But since taking office, Trump has rarely appeared before Jewish organizations. He last spoke at the the Republican Jewish Coalition conference in Las Vegas in April. The RJC, the leading Jewish group affiliated with the Republican Party, is also funded by Adelson.

The summit will address anti-Semitism, Jewish diaspora in the U.S., the future of Zionism, Israeli innovation, the impact of intersectionality — a critical theory lens that examines the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, and how they overlap as interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage — on the American Jewish community, and the relationship between Israelis and American Jews.

Other speakers at the event will include politicians, diplomats, entrepreneurs and American and Israeli celebrities. Among them are Consul General of Israel in New York Dani Dayan; Chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel Isaac Herzog; Likud lawmaker Gideon Sa'ar; Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and 2018 Israeli Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai.  

The IAC, established in 2007, aims to “build an engaged and united Israeli-American community that strengthens the Israeli and Jewish identity of our next generation, the American Jewish community, and the bond between the peoples of the United States and the State of Israel."

Netta Barzilai, winner of Eurovision 2018 speaks at the IAC National Summit.Credit: Noam Galai

It was originally founded by several prominent Israeli businessmen living in the United States as a nonpartisan organization. In recent years, however, Adelson has become the organization's leading donor, with IAC shifting to focus more on political issues.