Evangelical leader condemns Trump’s anti-Netanyahu outburst, won’t win election

In a letter to the former president, Mike Evans told him he would not win election if he put Evangelicals “in the position to choose between you and Bible land.”

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

An Evangelical adviser to former president Donald Trump blasted him in a letter for his anti-Netanyahu outburst in interviews last week, saying he would not win the presidency back this way, the Washington Post reported Monday.

Mike Evans, an early and firm supporter of Trump’s presidency who heads several Christian organizations, wrote in part, “Please, I beg of you, don’t put us in the position to choose between you and Bible land. There is no possibility you can win again if Bible-believing evangelicals see you as the ‘F–k Netanyahu’ president who . . . blames the State of Israel, and not the Palestinians, for not making peace.”

Trump had used the expletive when speaking with Barak Ravid of the Axios and Walla news sites in conveying his fury that the then-prime minister had congratulated Joe Biden on his victory over Trump in last year’s U.S. elections.

Although Netanyahu waited over 12 hours from the time the American media called the presidency for Biden to send his compliments, making him one of the last world leaders to acknowledge the win, Trump said he had been “earlier than most” to do so.

He was incensed at what he perceived to be the disloyalty of “the man I did more for than any other person I dealt with” as president, mentioning “gifts” such as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Israel’s 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights.

He also claimed that Netanyahu made it evident to him that he did not want a peace deal with the Palestinians, while Trump felt he could have worked a deal with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The fervent Christian Zionist added that the ex-president should understand that Netanyahu “has much greater support among evangelicals in America than you.” Trump was therefore risking their vote if he runs again, as he has indicated he would.

Evans’ friendship with Netanyahu goes back decades, to well before he became Israel’s longest-serving leader.

Other Evangelical leaders have not condemned Trump’s remarks, although at least one other said that it would be good to clear the air between the two former heads of state.

In an emailed statement, Jack Graham of Trump’s faith advisory council wrote that Trump should “reconcile with Benjamin Netanyahu and clarify his reported remarks.” But as Sandra Parker, one of the leaders of Christians United for Israel, the biggest pro-Israel lobby, pointed out in her own email to the paper, “Evangelical support for Israel is rooted in our Biblical tradition which transcends both politics and personalities.”

For his part, Netanyahu reacted gracefully to the verbal attack, saying in part that he “really appreciates the great contribution that president Trump made to the State of Israel and its security.”

Trump’s assertion that Netanyahu did not want to make peace may even help him politically in the long run, as the appearance of standing firm for Israel’s security needs in the face of pressure from the White House, even if it comes from a friend, plays well in his party.

After Monday’s faction meeting, faction chairman MK Yariv Levin said approvingly, “As someone who was involved … I say that there were certain things that Prime Minister Netanyahu stood up for and was not willing to compromise on at any cost. The absolute ‘no’ to a Palestinian State is a clear example of this, as heard on Trump’s tapes.”