It is no secret that Israel is an important policy issue in US national elections. But in the 2016 presidential race, concern for the Jewish state among Bible-believing Christians may actually be what tipped the scales for Donald Trump and, against all odds, put him in the White House.
In an interview with Israel’s Army Radio, Tzvika Brot, Trump’s campaign manager in Israel, revealed what he saw as one of the key secrets to the controversial real estate mogul’s successful campaign.
“There are an estimated 60 million Evangelicals in the US,” Brot pointed out. “Evangelicals usually vote upwards of 85 percent Republican, but early on in the campaign, we were seeing less than 50 percent of Evangelicals supporting the Trump candidacy.”
Trump and his team knew they had to do something that spoke directly to the hearts of Evangelicals in order to mobilize this critical demographic.
“We knew that if we made a one-to-one connection between Israel and Trump, we could sway the Evangelicals. They love Israel,” Brot continued. “So we organized public events with the press in Israel, opened seven offices, including one in a West Bank settlement, and held a rally in Jerusalem that included short recordings from Trump and vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence.”
The scheme worked. “Once the huge Evangelical population understood that Trump is Israel, and Israel is Trump, the tides shifted, and a large majority of the millions of Evangelicals came out to vote for the Republican nominee,” Brot stated. “This had a huge impact on the election results.”
Indeed, up until the day of the election itself, US news networks were predicting that Trump would garner just 50-60 percent of the Evangelical vote, making it nearly impossible for him to win. Those same networks were shocked when hours later they were forced to report that Trump had received the backing of as much as 85 percent of Evangelical voters, even more than George W. Bush managed in his two successful presidential campaigns.
Brot also explained that there are about 300,000 eligible American voters in Israel, and by one estimate some 60,000 of those live in settlements in Judea and Samaria. In past elections, only a very small number of these voted, perhaps less than 30,000.
“This time, we were able to get over 120,000 to vote,” Brot claimed. “And imagine also that these American-Israelis have family in the US whom they talk to and influence to support Trump. In America, Jews generally vote Democratic, but American Israelis turned many American Jews around to support the Republican candidate Donald Trump.”
Brot is a political consultant with ties to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud party. Their team also included a liaison with the ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem.
Trump will soon be sitting in that most coveted chair in the Oval Office, and one of its legs he owes to Israel. Let’s hope that once he settles into it, Trump doesn’t forget who is helping hold it up.