‘I’m for Israel first’: Trump backs military aid for Israel and voices continued support for Netanyahu

Former president Donald Trump said he supports increasing U.S. military aid to Israel for the war in Gaza and said that Jerusalem “cannot even think about losing” the fight.

By Alana Goodman, The Washington Free Beacon

In an interview with the Washington Free Beacon on Saturday, Trump also said he has a “very good relationship” with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—whom Trump had criticized in a recent speech—and had cordial words for Vice President Mike Pence who had dropped out of the race just hours earlier.

“I think it’s too bad that it turned out that way for Mike. I think he’s a good man with a bad moment,” said Trump, referring to Pence’s decision to certify the 2020 election for President Joe Biden, a move that severed the relationship between the two Republicans.

“We had almost four good years together, almost. The way it ended at the end was too bad,” added Trump.

Trump blamed Biden for the antisemitic rallies spreading across the United States, saying he has “never seen anything like it, the hatred.”

“This is not something that three years ago when I was running things, this is not something that existed. But it exists today. And it’s got to stop,” he said.

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Trump said he would support expelling Democratic representatives Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) from Congress for voting against a resolution condemning Hamas. He said the criticism of Israel from congressional Democrats was a bad sign for pro-Israel lobbying groups.

“In terms of lobbying for Congress, Israel is number one for years,” said Trump. “And now you look at the way they’re treated by Tlaib and AOC-plus-three, you know … it’s amazing the way they’re being treated. They’re being treated very, very badly.”

Pro-Israel lobbying in the U.S. amounts to about $4 million a year, according to a review of lobbying spending records by National Review. That number is below foreign lobbying by other countries, including Russia, which has spent an average of $26 million a year on lobbying and foreign influence since 2016, according to Open Secrets.

Trump’s comments come as Israel moves forward with a ground war to dismantle Gaza’s Hamas government, weeks after the terrorist group launched unprovoked attacks that killed 1,400 Israelis. Earlier on Saturday, Trump gave a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition forum in Las Vegas, vowing that he would “defend Western civilization from the barbarians and savages and fascists that you see now trying to do harm to our beautiful Israel.”

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Trump’s Republican challengers have criticized him over recent comments on Israel.

In a speech shortly after the Hamas attacks, Trump said Netanyahu “let us down” during the U.S. assassination of Iranian terror chief Qassem Soleimani in 2020.

Trump told the Free Beacon that he would put aside any grievances with Netanyahu if reelected next year.

“We had a very good relationship while I was president,” he said. “I’m for Israel first, I would have no trouble [working with him] whatsoever.”

He said the United States should provide additional military aid to Israel, but said the funding should be handled separately from funding to Ukraine.

His support for more aid puts him at odds with the small but growing isolationist wing of the Republican Party, including his presidential primary challenger Vivek Ramaswamy.

“You have to fight to win, and you have to support Israel,” said Trump. “But I think you should do each [funding bill] individually.”

Trump declined to elaborate on how he would approach Iran, which has backed the terrorist attacks against Israel, saying it could tip his hand and put him in a “bad position to say from a negotiating standpoint later.”

Trump also said he was concerned about antisemitic rallies taking place across the United States and globally, calling them “shocking” in “terms of the size and the level of hate.”

“This is from a different age. And the age was not a good age,” said Trump. “I can’t believe that it’s happening.”

“Friends of mine that are Jewish are very, I guess the word would be scared,” he added. “They’ve never seen anything like this. And we can’t have that.”

Trump said he would cut off federal funding to universities that host anti-Jewish rallies, a position similar to his Republican challenger Ron DeSantis, who recently authorized a ban of pro-terrorist groups on campus.

“The federal government gives colleges a lot of money. I’d stop it if they are allowing this Israel hate speech,” said Trump.