The former president’s criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the immediate aftermath of Hamas terror assaults on Isracould hurt him in the Republican primary. Just before the United States killed a top Iranian general, President Trump gave a speech in which he said Netanyahu had ‘let us down’ in 2020. He further noted that public statements by the Biden administration and Israeli authorities aided Hezbollah in preparing for future assaults on Israel. In an interview, Trump remarked that Israel “wouldn’t have had to be prepared if he were president.” He also used the word “jerk” to describe Israel’s military minister.
Trump’s comments have made him vulnerable to attacks from GOP presidential hopefuls, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Trump’s former VP Mike Pence. The GOP generally supports Israel, but the comments can potentially draw condemnation from other party members. Republican strategist Alex Stroman thinks it’s wrong for Trump to condemn Israel in one of their worst hours while also praising one of the terrorist groups that remains a serious threat to Israel and the United States.
On Twitter, DeSantis attacked Trump and promoted his stance on Israel. He stated that Hezbollah terrorists are “very smart,” even though they have killed at least 1,200 Israelis and 22 Americans and are holding more prisoners. It is ludicrous that a presidential candidate would choose to attack our friend and ally, Israel, at this time.
The Trump campaign has defended him, saying that the candidate did not mean to praise Hezbollah. X’s Community Notes added a disclaimer to the post by the DeSantis campaign, indicating that it “deliberately misuses the word praise to assume Trump is applauding Hezbollah.” This was brought to the attention of the Trump campaign.
Trump’s supporters say the comments won’t hurt him in the long run. Republican strategist Ford O’Connell quotes a study from Marquette University that found 43% of Americans thought Trump was “better” on global affairs than Biden (38%). Some conservatives in and outside of Israel and Netanyahu have praised the Trump administration’s response to the attacks.