Did Trump Ruin Reelection Hopes by Attacking Netanyahu?

It was widely reported that pro-Israel Evangelical Christians put Trump in the White House the first time. They might not a second

By Ryan Jones | | Topics: Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu
Things have gone from rosy to bitter between the two former allies, and that's likely to hurt Trump more than it does Netanyahu.
Things have gone from rosy to bitter between the two former allies, and that's likely to hurt Trump more than it does Netanyahu. Photo: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO

Flamboyant billionaire and reality television star Donald J. Trump sent shockwaves around the world when won the 2016 US presidential election. But despite his overconfidence, numerous reports at the time suggested he wouldn’t have won had pro-Israel Evangelical Christians not been convinced late in the race to support Trump.

“There are an estimated 60 million Evangelicals in the US and they usually vote Republican, but early on in the campaign we were seeing less than 50 percent of Evangelicals supporting Trump,” explained Tzvika Brot, Trump’s campaign manager in Israel, shortly after his election victory in November 2016.

“We knew that if we made a one-to-one connection between Israel and Trump, we could sway the Evangelicals. They love Israel,” added Brot. “Once the huge Evangelical population understood that Trump is Israel, and Israel is Trump, the tides shifted. This had a huge impact on the election results.”

For the full story, see: Israelis Convinced Christians to Vote Trump

Several months later, following Trump’s inauguration in early 2017, Israeli journalist Udi Segal told local media: “Trump’s advisors understood that Israelis and Jews who sided with Donald Trump would also encourage American evangelicals to vote for Trump.”

Read more: What Tipped the Scales?

If all this is true, Trump owes his presidency to pro-Israel Christians. And that means if he’s planning to run again in 2024, he might have just shot himself in the foot.

During his four years in office, many of these Christians came to see Trump as a Cyrus-like figure, reminiscent of the Persian king used by God to restore Israel and bless the Jewish people.

But those same Christians see Benjamin Netanyahu as a David-like figure, the anointed and rightful leader of the Jewish state.

And David trumps Cyrus, if you’ll forgive the pun.

Donald Trump didn’t seem to be considering this when he gave his angry interview to Israeli journalist Barak Ravid earlier this year. Excerpts are just now coming out, and all will soon be revealed when Ravid’s new book hits the shelves. While the book is being published only in Hebrew at this time, Trump’s quotes are being eagerly published in English by both Israeli and US media.

To recap, Trump believes Netanyahu betrayed him by joining other world leaders in congratulating Joe Biden on winning the 2020 presidential election; he paints Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas as far more congenial and peace-loving than Bibi; and he was furious that the then-Israel leader thought he could take unilateral actions in the “West Bank” without first consulting the White House.

In typical Trump fashion, he summed up his current feelings toward Netanyahu in just two words: “F—k him.”

Those two words could come back to bite him.

“There is no possibility you can win [in 2024] if Bible-believing evangelicals see you as the ‘F–k Netanyahu’ president who considers Abbas a father-like figure and blames the State of Israel, and not the Palestinians, for not making peace,” warned Christian leader Mike Evans in a letter to Trump that he shared with The Washington Post.

“Understand that Benjamin Netanyahu has much greater support among evangelicals in America than you,“ added Evans. “Please, I beg of you, don‘t put us in the position to choose between you and Bible land.”

We previously wrote about Mike Evans when he savagely attacked new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for turning his back on Netanyahu and forging a unity government with left-wing and Islamist parties.

At the time, Evans threatened to “withdraw Christian support for Israel” over Bennett’s perceived betrayal.

For more on that, see: How Should Christian Zionists React to Mike Evans?

 

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