New York, NY – Former President Donald Trump blasted American Jews for failing to vote for Republicans in sufficient numbers after he accepted the Theodor Herzl Medallion from the Zionist Organization of America, at the right-wing group’s annual gala on Sunday.
“You do have people in this country that happen to be Jewish that are not doing the right thing for Israel – too many,” Trump said, echoing a post he made on social media last month that drew heavy criticism from the American-Jewish community. ”The Democrats get 75 percent of the [Jewish] vote, which is hard to believe. We can’t let that continue,” he said.
Trump noted “all of the horrible things that have taken place with [President Joe] Biden and [former President] Barack Hussein Obama … and then it’s 75 percent of the vote.” He then turned to ZOA President Morton Klein in mock confusion, exclaiming, “What the hell is going on here, Mort?”
Speaking at the sold-out event at New York City’s Pier 60, Trump proceeded to attack the “people in Congress who hate Israel,” contrasting the situation with the past when “you couldn’t touch Israel and couldn’t say a bad thing about it.”
The former president was enthusiastically received by the crowd of ZOA members and supporters, who gave him repeated standing ovations when he entered the room and during his speech. They also stood and burst into raucous applause when other speakers mentioned his name.
Trump teased his expected upcoming announcement of his candidacy for the White House in 2024. “We’ll keep you in massive suspense,” he laughed. “Everyone’s saying ‘Oh gee, what’s he going to do?’”
He repeated the Big Lie about his 2020 election loss, insisting that “we got many, many millions more votes” than in his 2016 run, but there was “something screwy with our elections, and because of that we are in a bad position” regarding issues that affect Israel.
Had he remained president for a second term, Trump asserted, he would have signed a better Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran. Instead, “from the day he took office, Joe Biden has been groveling to the Iranian dictatorship to reenter the Iran nuclear deal,” he said.
Trump also claimed he would have had “everyone” in the Mideast region “signed up by now” to the Abraham Accords, while the Biden administration had “increased it by zero. They have nothing.” Four Arab countries – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco – signed historic normalization agreements with Israel during Trump’s last year in the White House.
In a similar vein, the former president repeated an assertion he had made previously that the “Russian invasion of Ukraine would have never ever happened” had he remained president.
Returning to the subject of Israel, Trump attacked Biden for “appointing numerous anti-Israel radical leftists to key government posts, including those who have supported the antisemitic BDS movement,” adding that the president’s “betrayals are outrageous.”
Trump happily recounted familiar anecdotes regarding his moving of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and unilaterally withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal – moves that won him praise from numerous speakers at the event.
When the new U.S. embassy was opened in May 2018, “it was something that was sort of a miracle to a lot of people,” Trump told the audience. “Great Jewish people felt it was a miracle, and you know who else? Evangelicals. You have great allies with the Christian evangelicals,” he added.
When the announcement was made last month to present Trump with the medallion – whose previous recipients have included Winston Churchill, Harry Truman, David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir and Menachem Begin – ZOA President Klein stated that his organization’s sole mission “is to fight for Israel’s and the Jewish people’s safety and security and prosperity. Since President Trump is the greatest friend Israel has ever had in the White House, we felt it was our moral duty to thank him for all he did for the Jewish state and the Jewish people.”
In mid-October, it was uncertain whether Trump would collect the award in person. However, a day after it was revealed that his Republican Party had failed to retake the Senate and a so-called red wave had not materialized in the midterms, he was at Pier 60 to receive the honor. Trump was welcomed by ZOA Chairman David Schoen, who had served as one of his attorneys in his second impeachment trial in the United States Senate.
Trump was presented with the medallion by GOP megadonor Miriam Adelson, who, in a speech delivered by video from Israel, compared him to the person his prize was named after: Theodor Herzl. The latter was similar to Trump “in many ways,” she said.
“Like you, he was a showman as well as a statesman. Like you, he had profound energy and a sense of purpose. Like you, he was adored and admired by multitudes, but regrettably was sometimes opposed by the very people he was trying to help most.”
The ZOA became a favorite Jewish organization of Trump’s during his time in the White House, and longtime president Klein delivered a characteristically fiery speech on Sunday. He slammed the “unjust and unfair and irrational hostility that some U.S. administration people and members of Congress display toward the Jewish state.”
He attacked the Biden administration in particular for its response to the likely presence of the Religious Zionism party and its Kahanist co-leader Itamar Ben-Gvir in Benjamin Netanyahu’s next governing coalition.
“The administration and some members of Congress have railed against the second largest party that will become part of the Israeli government … by exaggerating and misrepresenting their policies,” Klein charged. He pointed out that “the same U.S. officials were deafeningly silent when a radical Muslim Brotherhood party, Raam [United Arab List, which is actually Islamist but is referred to as being part of the Muslim Brotherhood by right-wing Israelis], was part of the previous Israeli government,” and failed to criticize Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on a ongoing basis.
“America won’t condemn Mahmoud Abbas – this monster, this terrorist, this killer – but America condemns the Israeli Religious Zionism party. This unjust double standard by the United States must be condemned and must end,” Klein said.
He also attacked the “Jew-hating Israel bashers in Congress,” listing the names of the Democratic group known as “the Squad”: Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cori Bush and Jamaal Bowman, as the crowd booed loudly.
“We lovers of freedom and justice and Israel must demand that these Israel haters suffer consequences for their anti-Jewish bigotry. They must be removed from every committee on which they serve,” Klein said.
ZOA also gave House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy the Dr. Miri & Sheldon G. Adelson Award for Defense of Israel. Jason Greenblatt, meanwhile, was honored for his work on the Abraham Accords alongside Jared Kushner.