Former U.S. President Donald Trump pushed back at allegations of racism and antisemitism on Tuesday, telling Fox News that “there’s nobody that has proven to be more of a friend of Israel” than him.
“Nobody has to prove or be defensive of me and Israel,” he told the American cable network. “They have acknowledged that I’m the best friend and president to Israel. I gave them the embassy in Jerusalem.”
Trump was referring to his decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018, a move widely lauded in Israel but denounced by critics and the Palestinians as damaging the prospects of a two-state solution.
The Guardian reported earlier this week that Trump had refused to disavow white supremacist and anti-Semite Nick Fuentes, while Axios news reported that the former president “seemed very taken” with him.
Speaking to Fox News, Trump stated that he had “never heard of the man – I had no idea what his views were, and they weren’t expressed at the table in our very quick dinner, or it wouldn't have been accepted.”
Trump’s comments about the embassy came as part of an attack on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who condemned his recent dinner with rapper Kanye West, who has recently come under fire for a series of anti-Jewish statements, and avowed antisemite Nick Fuentes at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, organizations, and Jewish officials roundly condemned the former president’s hosting of West and Fuentes. The meeting – perhaps Trump’s most notable association with extremists with histories of explicit antisemitic remarks – threw his nascent 2024 presidential campaign into turmoil, with many former allies directly calling Trump out for the meeting.
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Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, who campaigned for reelection with banners featuring Trump in 2019, also condemned Trump’s dinner with the pair, stating this week that the former president’s decision to meet them was “wrong and misplaced.”
Netanyahu, who had a notable falling out with Trump after he congratulated Joe Biden on his 2020 electoral victory, then stressed the Trump administration’s brazen support for Israel in hopes of defending the former president.
“He has been a tremendous supporter of Israel, and I’m unabashedly appreciative of what he did for Israel. He did great things for Israel in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, long overdue, given that it happened 3,000 years ago under King David. He moved the American embassy there. He recognized our sovereignty on the Golan Heights, from which we were attacked for years by Syria. He got out of this dangerous Iran deal, and I appreciate all that it doesn’t take away from. Also, you know, he’s been very supportive of the Jewish people. So I think he made a mistake. I hope it’s not repeated. That’s all I can tell you,” Netanyahu said.
Trump has used his unprecedented support for Israel as a deflection against accusations of antisemitism, all while invoking dual loyalty tropes and deeming Jews who vote for Democrats as “very disloyal” to Israel. Trump’s opinions of American Jews, however, have deteriorated into stereotypes, touching on tropes of wealth, power and status.
This October, he warned American Jews to “get their act together,” decrying how they fail to appreciate him like evangelical Christians or Israel.