Senior Israeli Orthodox rabbis urge Americans to vote for Trump

A group of Jewish settlers in the Palestinian West Bank also prayed for the US president's victory at Abraham's tomb on Monday.

al-monitor Israeli Likud Party affiliates and supporters of US President Donald Trump attend a pre-election rally in the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh on Nov. 2, 2020, ahead of the US presidential election. Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images.

Nov 2, 2020

A group of religious-nationalist rabbis in Israel have signed a letter urging Americans to re-elect President Donald Trump ahead of Tuesday’s election. The US commander-in-chief is popular in Israel and the letter focused on his tough policies on Iran.

The letter was signed by several prominent religious-nationalist rabbis, including Chaim Druckman of the Jewish Home Party and Dov Lior of the far-right Otzma Yehudit. The Israeli media outlet Makor Rishon published the letter, which began by praising Trump’s Iran policy.

“President Trump blocked Iran’s nuclear program,” said the rabbis, calling the program the “greatest threat to world peace.”

Countering Iran is a major policy objective for the Trump administration, read the letter.

Trump withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed harsh sanctions on the Islamic Republic. The deal had removed sanctions on Tehran in exchange for compliance on its nuclear program. The United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China remain party to the agreement and have rejected US efforts to trigger more sanctions based on alleged Iranian noncompliance.

Iran opposes Israel’s existence and supports many groups that fight the Jewish state, including Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. The rabbis also mentioned Iran’s proxies in the letter.

“Iran has been supplying hundreds of thousands [of weapons] to Hezbollah and Hamas, which are now pointed at millions of Israelis,” they said.

The religious leaders also praised Trump’s role in furthering peace between Israel and Arab states.

“In the face of these wars and the ongoing bloodshed, peace agreements are being signed these days between Israel and several important Arab countries in the region, with the uncompromising support and encouragement of Donald Trump,” they said.

The president helped broker the normalization agreements Israel recently signed with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The Gulf states are only the third and fourth in the Arab world to recognize the Jewish state, after Egypt and Jordan.

Trump has been supportive of Israel in several ways. In 2019, Trump also recognized the Golan Heights as Israeli territory — reversing decades of US policy and bucking international law. Israel captured the territory from Syria during the 1967 war. The president also moved the US Embassy to Israel to Jerusalem in 2018 and recognized the religiously significant city as Israel’s capital — also breaking with US precedent. The act prompted other countries to similarly move their embassies from Tel Aviv.

Trump unsurprisingly has strong support in Israel, with more than two thirds of Israelis preferring him to his Democratic opponent Joe Biden.

The letter is also not surprising considering modern trends in Judaism. In recent years, more religious Jews have embraced Zionism. Historically, many devout religious Jews often referred to as ultra-Orthodox have been opposed to the ideology, which began as a secular form of Jewish nationalism demanding a homeland in Israel.

A group of religious Jewish settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron prayed at the prophet Abraham’s tomb on Monday for Trump’s election victory, Reuters reported.

In the US Jewish community, many religious Jews support Trump, in part because of his pro-Israel positions. Secular, more progressive Jews tend to prefer Biden and are more critical of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians.

Israel has been discussed in the debate surrounding the presidential election, though overall the discourse has focused on domestic issues. Trump touted the UAE-Israel deal at the Republican National Convention, for example.

Continue reading this article by registering at no cost and get unlimited access to:
  • Al-Monitor Archives
  • The Week in Review
  • Exclusive Events
  • Invitation-only Briefings