Donald Trump delivered a warm message of support for Israel and his close adviser launched a blistering attack on his rival Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama at a much-anticipated rally that drew 200 supporters Wednesday night just outside the walls of Jerusalem's Old City.
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“I love Israel and honor and respect the Jewish faith and tradition,” the Republican presidential hopeful said in the one-minute video message. “For me, respect and reverence for Judaism is personal. My daughter Ivanka and my son-in-law Jared are raising their children in the Jewish faith.”
Trump promised: “My administration will stand side by side with the Jewish people and Israel’s leaders to continue strengthening the bridges that connect not only Jewish Americans and Israelis but also all Americans and Israelis. Together, we will stand up to enemies like Iran bent on destroying Israel and her people. Together, we will make America and Israel safe again.”
The address by Trump, as well as one by running mate Mike Pence, was screened at an event hosted by Republicans Overseas Israel. The gathering had been alternately publicized as a rally for the Republican presidential candidate and as a show of support of Jewish connection to the Jerusalem.
The mixed message was felt at the event, as some of the speakers did their best to avoid politically partisan battle cries and directed their speeches on Jerusalem and diplomacy in a manner reminiscent of a policy forum, while many of the younger attendees, wearing Trump T-shirts and trademark red “Make America Great Again” baseball caps, clearly hankered for the atmosphere of a Trump rally in the United States.
At each mention of Clinton’s name, boos were heard in the audience, as well as cries of “Lock Her Up,” “Hillary for Prison,” and the campaign’s latest slogan, “Drain the Swamp.”
In his video remarks, Pence said that “Israel’s fight is our fight, Israel’s cause is our cause.” The Jewish state, he said, is “not just our strongest ally in the Middle East, it is our most cherished ally in the world.” Israel, he added, is “hated by too many progressives, because she is successful and her people are free.”
He proclaimed in his message, which was slightly longer than Trump’s: “Let the word go forth that Donald Trump and I are proud to stand with Israel.”
The speakers from the Trump camp from the United States were not revealed before the event, and local supporters had hoped that a high-profile surrogate like Rudy Giuliani or John Bolton would make the trip to appear. In the end, Trump was represented by David Friedman, the candidate’s adviser on Israel, and David Peyman, head of Jewish outreach for the campaign – who revealed he had placed a note in the Western Wall written by Trump.
Friedman delivered the fieriest political speech, pledging that there would be “no daylight” between Israel and the U.S. under Trump and that “a Trump administration will never pressure Israel into a two-state solution or any other solution that is against the will of the Israeli people” because “they know what’s best for themselves.”
He promised that a President Trump would be “different” and distinguish himself from past administrations, both Democrats and Republicans, by not only pledging to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem but by actually doing it.
Trump, he said, would “stand up” to the “lifers” in the State Department. If such officials would try to convince him that such a move would not be in keeping with U.S. foreign policy, Trump would say, “You know what, guys? You’re all fired!”
While saying at first that he didn’t want to “mention the name Hillary Clinton and dishonor the holiness of this venue,” Friedman quickly went on the attack, saying that while the former secretary of state may have “sounded pro-Israel” when she addressed the AIPAC conference last spring, “Hillary Clinton’s words are the cheapest currency on the political marker and “her record frightens me to no end."
A Clinton administration would be a third term of the Obama White House, he added, saying that President Obama was the “worst president that Israel has ever confronted.”
Evoking Clinton’s infamous embrace of Suha Arafat when she was first lady, he charged the Democratic nominee “got her advice” from anti-Israel advisers and attacked her aide Huma Abedin with debunked smears that she had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Friedman added that any disagreements between Israel and the U.S. would “be handled in private” because “disagreement energizes Israel’s enemies, as we have seen in Obama’s administration.” Under Trump, he pledged, there would be “no opportunity for mischief at the UN” because Trump would “order” his UN ambassador to veto every resolution hostile to Israel.
He said that Trump would re-haul the U.S.-Israel relationship so that Israel would not be treated as a “client state” to follow orders but be “a full partner with the U.S. in the global war against terrorism.”
The previous evening, Friedman told Israeli television that there was no anti-Semitic sentiment among Trump supporters, pointing the finger instead at anti-Semitism on the left and in Clinton’s ranks.
The event was opened by Marc Zell, co-chair of Republicans Overseas in Israel, who Friedman lauded as having “organized the largest support group for the Republican Party in the entire world.” Israeli speakers included Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Hagit Moshe from the Habayit Hayehudi Party, former MK Sharon Gal and anti-immigrant activist May Golan, who said that under Trump’s “passionate leadership” the United States would inspire “other nations to challenge their corrupt establishments.”