Election 2020

'Like the Messiah': American Israelis Are Joyful Over Trump

President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participate in a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

According to Perel Wachsman, who splits time between Milwaukee and Jerusalem, some Israelis were literally dancing for joy when they heard the news that Trump had been elected.

Many American citizens living in Israel voted for Trump, and many Israeli citizens who spend time in both countries agreed that Trump would be better for Israel than Clinton. Certainly, the majority of religious American/Israeli Jews in Israel seemed to lean heavily towards Trump.

Hamodia, a newspaper targeted at Orthodox Jews published in Hebrew and English, dedicated almost its entire January 26 English-language edition to positive takes on Trump’s nascent presidency: “Charting a new course,” “our expectations are great,” “man of action,” “a new dawn, a new direction.”

And Hamodia’s message to Obama: “You disappointed us.”

Being good for Israel seemed to be the reason that so many Israelis who could vote in the American elections voted for Trump. These people felt Clinton would be a continuation of Obama’s presidency, which they felt was not good for Israel.

Emanuel Jacobs, 49, an Israeli American, said this about Trump’s victory:

I feel that the messiah has arrived. It had been a difficult eight years for Israel up to now. Trump’s words, “I’m going to be extreme about Muslim terrorists,” were welcome ones. Now we have someone who cares about Israel and understands the historical place Israel is in, and understands that Jews have to protect themselves. … Trump says the right things.

Even some staunch Democrats decided that Trump was preferable over Clinton. Rael Hause, 38, who had immigrated to Israel ten years ago and who had always voted Democrat, said:

I’m all for Trump, and what he can do for Israel. He will negotiate with [Israel’s] benefits at heart.

After Obama, I don’t think I could vote for a Democrat again, at least not for a very long time.

However, other American Israelis had a few reservations. Matt Wanderman, 32, said:

I’m worried that Israel will disagree with him and he’ll see it as a betrayal. Clinton could not do so much damage. However I hope that I’ll be surprised for the good.

Eighty year old Isaac Eitan, whose parents were American immigrants to Israel and who has studied and worked in Israel for many years, voted for Clinton. He stated that he didn’t really feel that Trump was “presidential material,” and was not as “even-keeled” as Clinton.

However, “It’s a miracle that he won” was the response of many in Israel. Yehuda Shomer, 42, was one of those calling it a “miracle” — Shomer said that the new election was a “clean slate”:

Trump doesn’t condemn Netanyahu for building like Clinton would have done. He wants to move the American embassy to Jerusalem … Clinton would just have continued Obama’s policies. I feel that Trump has always been friendly to the Jews and Israel.

Shaindy Sahler, 36, was born in Israel but has American citizenship through her father. She also used that word: “a miracle for the Jewish people in Israel.” A religious, married mother of six boys, she felt that G-d’s hand was in the election, and that with the win, G-d was looking after Israelis.

Leah Goldberg, 25, said she was concerned about what she had heard about Trump’s attitude towards women. She said that she had decided not to vote as she didn’t really know enough to make an informed selection, and now has a wait-and-see attitude about Trump.

American Israelis generally keep a sharp and constant eye on American politics, knowing that many policies will affect Israel and their lives in both countries. Those who voted for Trump are delighted that he won, tempered somewhat by the understanding that campaign promises are generally not kept. However, the hopes and expectations that Trump will follow through with positive Israel policies are very high. They are indeed talking of miracles; of a long-awaited political messiah.