Jewish leaders praised President Trump in emphatic terms during a reception Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “He has been the greatest friend for Israel any American president has ever been,” declared Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America. Speaking at a reception organized by the Israel Heartland Coalition, Klein’s remarks were applauded by an audience committed to making permanent the Jewish settlements in what the media usually calls the West Bank, but which Israeli patriots call by the historic names of Judea and Samaria.
As our own Dov Fischer has noted, last year the Trump administration vindicated the legality of these Jewish settlements, repudiating United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, passed in the waning days of the Obama administration. This move, perhaps even more than the decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, has won Trump the gratitude of Israelis and pro-Israel Jews.
It seems odd to write that phrase, “pro-Israel Jews,” which one might think would be redundant were it not for the existence of left-wing Jews who seem devoted to Israel’s destruction. The fact that Democrats might soon nominate Sen. Bernie Sanders as Trump’s opponent in the fall election brings this strange irony to the forefront. Sanders (who for a few months in 1963 actually lived in an Israeli kibbutz) has recently accused the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) of “bigotry” and slammed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “reactionary racist.” Sanders is an ally of the so-called “Squad” of radical House Democratic freshmen, including notorious anti-Semite Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. There was applause during Thursday’s CPAC reception when Omar’s Republican challenger, Dalia al-Aqidi, was introduced.
The enthusiasm for Trump’s pro-Israel policies has enormous political value to the incumbent Republican, whose liberal enemies have so often smeared him with Hitler comparisons. (The contrast between this leftist smear and the pro-Jewish reality of Trump’s presidency has become a running joke: “Worst. Hitler. Ever.”) But the value of Trump’s support to the residents of Israeli settlements is perhaps priceless. For many years, U.S. policy was based on the idea of a negotiated peace between Israel and Palestinians — the so-called “two-state solution” — in which it was assumed that Palestinians would gain control of the territory Israel occupied in the 1967 Six-Day War. The chief obstacle to any such deal was the refusal of Palestinian leadership to negotiate in good faith, while continuing terrorist attacks on Israel. By recognizing the legality of the settlements and Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Trump has moved the path of peace in a new direction.
“The two-state solution is no solution at all,” North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows said at Thursday’s reception, saying that what is called the West Bank should properly “be identified as Israel.” Meadows was one of three Republicans, along with Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs and former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who spoke at the Israel Heartland event. Walker, who has visited the Israeli settlements, emphasized the importance of these territories to Israel’s security. “Without safe and defensible borders, there is no Israel,” Walker said.
Emcee of Thursday’s event was Yishai Fleisher, international spokesman for the city of Hebron, whom Steve Postal introduced to American Spectator readers earlier this month. Fleisher emphasized that many so-called West Bank communities are important sites in Israel’s biblical history. Hebron, for example, is home to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, burial site of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah. The West Bank also includes Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus. The idea that such sites should be ceded to Israel’s enemies is deeply offensive to many people, including evangelical Christians. Yet Israel’s determination to maintain its settlements in Judea and Samaria has been seized on by the Left — including the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement — to depict Israel as engaged in a brutal “occupation.”
“Our enemies no longer have the ability to meet us on the battlefield, so they are dragging our name through the mud,” Fleisher said.
Fighting back against this slanderous anti-Israel narrative has helped boost Trump’s support among American Jews, especially among the Orthodox. In December, a poll found that 89 percent of Orthodox Jews now support Trump’s re-election, and administration was proud to promote its pro-Israel policy at CPAC.
“Under this president, if the world knows nothing else, the world knows this: America stands with Israel,” Vice President Mike Pence said during his speech Thursday in the main CPAC ballroom, bringing the crowd to its feet cheering before he continued, “You know, this president has done more to support our most cherished ally than anyone could have imagined just three short years ago. He got out of the Iran nuclear deal, he recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and President Donald Trump moved the American embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of the state of Israel. So we’ve been standing with our allies, and we’ve been standing up to our enemies.”
Standing strongly with Israel may be controversial, but her enemies are also America’s enemies. Perhaps the pious Pence had in mind God’s promise to Israel in Genesis 12: “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee.” If Trump has made his presidency a blessing to Israel, maybe the man in the White House has earned some favor with the Man upstairs.