Trump appears to blame Israel for antisemitism, says Israel ‘made a very big mistake’ and is ‘losing a lot of support’

Written by on March 25, 2024

Andrea Renault/Star Max/GC Images

(WASHINGTON) — Former President Donald Trump appeared to blame Israel for antisemitism, saying Israel made a “big mistake” in its response to Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7 and is “losing a lot of support” from around the world. But he also noted that he would have responded “very much the same” as Israel did against such an attack.

Sitting down at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend with Israeli outlet Israel Hayom, which is owned by the late major Republican megadonor and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s family, Trump said “that’s because you fought back,” when he was asked how he would deal with a wave of antisemitism in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war.

“Well, that’s because you fought back. And I think Israel made a very big mistake,” Trump reportedly said in a part of the interview that was released only in text, calling attention to the harrowing images from the war released by the Israeli government.

“I wanted to call [Israel] and say don’t do it. These photos and shots. I mean, moving shots of bombs being dropped into buildings in Gaza,” Trump reportedly continued. “And I said, Oh, that’s a terrible portrait. It’s a very bad picture for the world. The world is seeing this … every night, I would watch buildings pour down on people. It would say it was given by the Defense Ministry, and said whoever’s providing that, that’s a bad image.”

When Israel Hayom followed up, claiming terrorists are hiding in buildings, Trump reportedly responded: “Go and do what you have to do. But you don’t do that.”

“And I think that’s one of the reasons that there has been a lot of kickback. If people didn’t see that, every single night I’ve watched every single one of those. And I think Israel wanted to show that it’s tough, but sometimes you shouldn’t be doing that,” the former president continued.

Hamas carried out an unprecedented incursion from Gaza into southern Israel by air, land and sea on Oct. 7, 2023, killing more than 1,200 people and taking 253 others hostage, according to Israeli authorities. More than 31,400 Palestinians have been killed and more than 72,000 others have been injured in Gaza since Oct. 7, amid Israel’s ongoing ground operations and aerial bombardment of the strip, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

The Israel Defense Forces has said it is only targeting Hamas and other militants in Gaza and alleges that Hamas deliberately shelters behind civilians, which the group denies.

In another part of the interview, released as a part of a 10-minute edited video, Trump warned Israel that it’s “losing a lot of support” from the world and urged it to end the war.

“I will say Israel has to be very careful because you’re losing a lot of the world. You’re losing a lot of support,” Trump said, going beyond his usual line of calling for peace. “But you have to finish up. You have to get the job done. And you have to get on to peace. You have to get on to a normal life for Israel and for everybody else.”

When asked how he would react to an attack like that of Hamas on Oct. 7, Trump said he would “act very much the same as you did,” saying “you would have to be crazy not to.”

Throughout the Israel Hayom interview, Trump blamed President Joe Biden, saying, in part: “But it was an attack that I blame on Biden because they have no respect for him.”

Later in the interview, Trump said he believed Israel needs to improve in “public relations,” claiming that pro-Israel forces were much stronger in the United States in the past.

On the campaign trail, Trump has branded himself as the most pro-Israel U.S. president in history, often touting his role in the first term moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and claiming he’d stand with Israel “all the way 100% without hesitation” after the Hamas attack last year.

Trump himself has not refrained from making disparaging comments about the war, telling a group of Jewish Republicans in Las Vegas last year: “The conflict between Israel and Hamas is not a conflict between two equal sides. This is a fight between civilization and savagery. Between decency and depravity and between good and evil.”

“There can be no sympathy, no excuses and no escape for these monsters and we will do what has to be done,” Trump said at the Republican Jewish Coalition conference in Las Vegas.

After he recently faced backlash for saying Jewish Democrats “hate Israel” and “should be ashamed of themselves,” Trump again echoed a similar sentiment over the weekend, claiming Jewish Americans should not vote for Democrats.

“I think that means you should never vote for them. How could a Jewish person vote for Kamala Harris?” Trump said, when asked about Vice President Kamala Harris’ stepdaughter Ella Emhoff reportedly helping raise money for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the main U.N. humanitarian organization operating in Gaza and some of whose staff have been accused by Israel of participating in the Oct. 7 attack.

“You might have Kamala Harris if this doesn’t work out, you have her right now. If something happened to [Biden], you have her,” Trump said.

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