Republican candidates seeking to obtain their party’s nomination to run in the race to the White House showed on Saturday their support for Israel to donors and voters who attended the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting over the weekend in Las Vegas, in the midst of the war in Gaza.
Donors and voters attending the meeting focused on scrutinizing the extent of Republican candidates’ support for Israel.
This annual event, in which candidates traditionally seek financial support, holds special importance this year for the American Jewish community, which was shocked after the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, which resulted in 1,400 deaths.
Organizers said on social media that the eyes of the world will be focused on this gathering.
During this rally, the eight Republican contenders will speak.
Among them, attention focused on Donald Trump, who is topping the opinion polls, and on his closest competitor, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Trump said during this annual gathering that the United States fully stands with Israel, speaking of a “struggle between civilization and barbarism”.
He added, “The United States stands with the Israelis in their mission to ensure the elimination of Hamas and avenge all these atrocities,” pledging to defend Israel “like no one has done before”.
On the other hand, Trump promised on Saturday to reinstate his controversial decision targeting Islamic countries if he’s elected again.
He said, “Do you remember the entry ban? One day I will reimpose the entry ban,” he said, vowing to keep “radical Islamic terrorists” out of the United States.
In turn, Trump’s other rivals declared their unwavering support for Israel.
During the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting, Ron DeSantis described the Hamas attack as the deadliest attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust.
“We need cultural chemotherapy to fight this cancer,” said Senator and candidate Tim Scott, while DeSantis promised to cancel the visas of students demonstrating for Palestine.
In recent weeks, Trump sparked controversy by describing Lebanese Hezbollah, one of Israel’s staunchest enemies and an ally of Hamas, as “very smart”.
His criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who accused him of letting down the United States before the American drone raid that killed the commander of the Quds Force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Qassem Soleimani, in 2020, also sparked controversy within the Grand Old Party.
Regarding coordination for the assassination of Soleimani, Trump said, “Israel would have done this with us, and this had been planned and worked on for months”.
He added, “Everything was ready, and the night before the attack, I received a call stating that Israel wouldn’t participate in it”.
For his part, DeSantis stressed in mid-October that this isn’t the appropriate time to express personal grievances against the Israeli prime minister”.
“It’s time to support their right to defend themselves until the end,” he said.
In turn, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley pledged this week to take action against anti-Semitism, focusing on the discussions currently being raised by the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel on American university campuses.
She said that if elected president, she would amend the official federal definition of anti-Semitism to include denial of Israel’s right to exist, and “I will strip schools of their tax exemption if they don’t combat anti-Semitism in all its forms, consistent with federal law”.
“Students in universities are allowed to express themselves freely, but they aren’t free to spread hatred that supports terrorism,” she added.
New House Speaker Mike Johnson announced his attendance at the event… The organizers welcomed his participation, and wrote on X, that his participation confirms his commitment to solidarity with the people of Israel and the American Jewish community.
Meanwhile, security measures were strengthened around the venue of this gathering, especially since the organizers expected a larger number of participants than usual to attend.
In addition to the expected speeches, Republican candidates will participate in prayers and tributes to the Israeli victims who fell in the Hamas attack.
Support for Israel is considered one of the fundamental issues for the two major parties in the United States, and it is also an important foreign policy issue capable of bringing about change at the ballot box, given the large number of Jewish voters.
Support for Israel is also an important issue for evangelical Christian voters who consider the existence of a Jewish state a prerequisite for achieving the hoped-for second coming of Jesus Christ, according to their belief.