Trump: ‘Only a fool’ wouldn’t have responded to Oct. 7th like Israel did

Former president defends Israel’s response to October 7th invasion – but urges Jewish state to ‘finish it up’ and ‘get to peace.’

By Omer Lachmanovitch and Ariel Kahana, JNS

In a no-holds-barred interview, former U.S. President Donald Trump told Israel Hayom that he supports Israel’s defensive war against Hamas and that he would have responded to the Oct. 7 attack in a very similar way.

He added that “what I saw on October 7 was one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen,” but says Israel should draw the fighting to a close.

“You have to finish up your war. To finish it up. You gotta get it done. And, I am sure you will do that. And we gotta get to peace, we can’t have this going on.”

“And 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, you have to finish up, you have to get the job done. And you have to get on to peace, to get on to a normal life for Israel, and for everybody else.”

He added that the dragging on of the war could hurt Israel because of the footage coming out of Gaza.

The interview took place over the weekend at Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida. It focused on the Hamas war, President Joe Biden’s handling of it, and the next steps that Trump believes should be taken.

Q: I want to present you with a question I think every world leader has to answer. How would you react if your children or grandchildren were kidnapped by Hamas and underwent the same atrocities many Israelis have experienced since Oct. 7?

“I would say I would act very much the same way as you did. You would have to be crazy not to. Only a fool would not do that. That was a horrible attack.”

Q: If you were president again, how would you counter the wave of antisemitism in the wake of the war’s outbreak?

“Well, that’s because you fought back. And I think Israel made a very big mistake. 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.”

“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.”

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Q: But terrorists are hiding in those buildings.

“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.”

Q: Senator Chuck Schumer, just two weeks ago, called on Israelis to go to the polls and change the government. And on top of that, we see, I would say daily interference by the administration. What do you think about what Schumer said about Biden’s support, or lack thereof, for Israel?

“I think it’s a terrible thing to do, because it takes all of your momentum away, because they watch, and they watch the government, they watch the people what’s going on. And it shows great division in the United States, you have to have support.

“And you don’t have the support you used to have. Some 15 years ago, Israel had the strongest lobby. If you were a politician, you couldn’t say anything bad about Israel, that would be like the end of your political career. Today, it’s almost the opposite.

“I’ve never seen you have AOC [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] plus three, these lunatics, frankly [Reps. Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib]. But you have AOC plus three plus plenty of others. And all they do is talk badly about Israel, and they hate Israel, and they hate the Jewish people. And they are open about it.

“Take a look at some of these, Rashida Tlaib, what she says the way she talks, and they truly hate the Jewish people. And 15 years ago, that would have been unthinkable to be doing that. So Israel has to get, Israel has to get better with the promotional and with the public relations, because right now they’re in ruin. They’re being hurt very badly. I think in a public relations sense.”

Joe Biden

Trump, who recently secured the Republican nomination for president, is leading in the polls but has given only a few interviews since. However, he agreed to grant an interview to Israel Hayom in the library of his estate, where he spoke at length on the race against his successor. Trump harshly attacked Biden over his treatment of Israel.

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“It [Oct. 7] was an attack that I blame on Biden because they [Hamas] have no respect for him. He can’t put two sentences together. He can’t talk. He’s a very dumb person. He’s a dumb person. His foreign policy throughout 50 years has been horrible. If you look at people that were in other administrations with him, they saw him as a weak, ineffective president, they [Hamas] would have never done that attack if I were there.”

Trump touted the many historic steps he took as president in 2017-2021 for Israel: The Abraham Accords between Israel and four Arab countries, recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli sovereign territory, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and moving the embassy there.

‘Iran 35 days away from a nuclear weapon’

According to Trump, “The biggest thing I did was the Iran nuclear deal. I ended it.”

Trump explained that during his presidency, Iran’s economy collapsed due to the sanctions he imposed on it.

“I said to many nations, 47 nations, I spoke to many of them personally, ‘If you buy oil from Iran, you will not do any business in the United States, and we’re going to tariff your products. Every single one of them agreed, I didn’t lose one, not one.

“Iran did almost no oil business, you know that nobody would buy oil because of me, they were broke, they had no money for Hamas they had no money for Hezbollah, they had no money for anybody.

“And now they’re sitting with $221 billion in cash. And they control Iraq, which has $300 billion in cash. It’s like a subsidiary, whether you like it or not, it’s like a subsidiary because stupidly, the United States went in and blew everything up. …

“… and No. 2, if I was the president, they [Hamas] would have never done that, because they knew there would have been very big consequences.

“That being said, you have to finish up your war. To finish it up. Iran is 35 days away from having a nuclear weapon because of the incompetence of Biden; he is an incompetent president. He’s the worst president our country’s ever had. And it’s so sad when I see what’s happening in Israel and Ukraine and other places.”

Q: What should be done now with Iran, now that they are so close to the bomb?

“Well, I don’t want to tell you that. Because I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to tell you, but I don’t think you can allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. I don’t think it’s my position right now to be telling you that but I would tell you this—I was very strong on Iran not having a nuclear weapon to a point where they … literally had no money.”

A significant portion of the conversation was dedicated by the former president to harsh attacks on his rival, Joe Biden.

“He can’t put two sentences together,” Trump said. “Remember this, Biden is not a friend of Israel. Because if Biden was a friend of Israel, October 7 would have never happened. Forget about what happened after October 7. October 7 would have never happened if you had a friend named Biden, because if you had the proper president, that would have never happened.”

Jewish Democrats

Q: Do you have any plans to visit Israel?

“I would be glad to. In Israel, I get 98% of the vote. Not here, we have a lot of people in the United States who are Jewish but they actually fight Israel, look at The New York Times. It’s a Jewish family. I think they hate Israel. I watch what they write in The New York Times, it’s hysterical. Now the conservative Jews love Trump, I would get the highest mark. I would beat anybody [with them], they love Trump. I think they are great, and they love Israel.”

Q: You have been critical over the years of Jewish Democrats who don’t support you. Perhaps now with the rise of antisemitism and the war, which has made them care more about Israel, you have something new to say that could convince them.

“I think if you have to convince them, you got a problem because that should be automatic. I’m not Jewish. And yet Israel for me is very important.”

Q: Vice President Kamala Harris’s stepdaughter [Ella Emhoff] has tried to raise funds for UNRWA. What do you think about this?

“How could a Jewish person vote for Kamala Harris? And essentially, you know, that’s what probably is going to happen because you look at this guy [Biden], he can’t walk down a flight of stairs, he can’t walk across a room. He can’t find the exit to a stage without five different sets of stairs. You might have Kamala Harris if this doesn’t work out. Something happens to him and you have her. She supports the enemy, but he supports the enemy too.”