(JTA) — Donald Trump, the former U.S. president, has once again said he is baffled by the lack of appreciation he feels coming from American Jews.
“No president has done more for Israel than I have,” he said on a personal social media platform he owns. “Somewhat surprisingly, however, our wonderful Evangelicals are far more appreciative of this than people of the Jewish faith, especially those living in the U.S.”
He added, “U.S. Jews have to get their act together and appreciate what they have in Israel — before it is too late!”
It’s not clear what prompted the posting, but it echoes comments that he made multiple times as president.
The posting comes days after the right-wing Zionist Organization of America announced that it would bestow on Trump a rare honor, listing his multiple initiatives that aligned U.S. policy more with Israel’s hawks, including moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, cutting funding to the Palestinians, exiting the Iran deal and recognizing Israelis sovereignty in the Golan Heights.
The announcement came the same day that the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol voted unanimously to subpoena him to testify about his role in stoking the event, which the committee has learned was substantial.
Trump’s frustration over his reception among American Jews was a preoccupation for him during his presidency. Depending on the exit survey, Trump scored between 21% and 30% of the Jewish vote in 2020, reflecting the tendency for decades of Jewish voters to favor Democrats by about 70%. He found some significant support among Orthodox Jews, who have grown more politically conservative on average in recent decades. But he also drew particular revulsion in some Jewish quarters because of his willingness at times to accept the backing of antisemitic extremists.
Nonpartisan Jewish groups condemned Trump’s comments on Sunday.
“Support for the Jewish state never gives one license to lecture American Jews, nor does it ever give the right to draw baseless judgments about the ties between U.S. Jews and Israel,” the American Jewish Committee said in a post. “And to be clear, those ties are strong and enduring.”
“We don’t need the former president, who curries favor with extremists and antisemites, to lecture us about the US-Israel relationship,” said Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, also in a post. “It is not about a quid pro quo; it rests on shared values and security interests. This 'Jewsplaining’ is insulting and disgusting.”
In Israel, where Trump is indeed popular, his message drew attention for appearing to contain a threat against American Jews who do not share his outlook on Israel.
“Nothing to see here,” posted Yaakov Katz, editor of the Jerusalem Post. “Just a former US president using threatening language about American Jews at a time when antisemitism is on a global rise.”
It’s not the first time Trump has appeared to take personally his low polling among Jews.
“I saw a poll that in the last election, I got 25% of the Jewish vote and I said here I have a son-in-law and a daughter who are Jewish, I have beautiful grandchildren that are Jewish,” Trump said in 2020 in a White House Rosh Hashanah call with Jewish leaders. “I have all of these incredible achievements. I’m amazed that [polling] seems to be almost automatically a Democrat.”
In 2019, Trump said Jews who voted Democratic showed “great disloyalty,” although he apparently meant the disloyalty was to Israel and not to him personally. In reported remarks, he has told colleagues that he believes that Jews are loyal above all to themselves.
The ZOA said it would award Trump the Theodor Herzl Medallion, previously bestowed on Lord Balfour, the British leader who drafted the document envisioning a Jewish national home in Palestine; Winston Churchill, the World War II-era British prime minister; Harry Truman, the U.S. president who recognized Israel at its founding against the counsel of some of his top advisers; David Ben Gurion, the first Israeli prime minister; Golda Meir, Israel’s prime minister during the 1973 Yom Kippur War; Menachem Begin, the prime minister who made peace with Egypt; and Sheldon Adelson, the late casino magnate and backer of Republican and pro-Israel causes.
Trump will receive the medallion in person in New York on Nov. 13, Morton Klein, the ZOA president, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
The group has faced criticism from others in the Jewish community over Klein’s embrace of ideas espoused by many of Trump’s supporters. But coalitions of Jewish groups have so far not acceded to calls to eject ZOA over that embrace.