WASHINGTON (RNS) — The Trump campaign has announced a new Jewish outreach effort that will focus on the president’s record regarding Israel and anti-Semitism.
The "Jewish Voices for Trump" initiative — which was first reported by According to Jewish Insider and Axios and officially announced on Wednesday (Sept. 16) — will be co-chaired by Nevada casino mogul and conservative donor Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, a doctor and philanthropist.
Other co-chairs include former Trump White House aide Boris Epshteyn; Wayne Berman, a businessman and Republican Jewish Coalition board member; and Julie Strauss Levin, wife of TV and radio personality Mark Levin.
“President Trump is a champion of the Jewish people and the greatest ally the State of Israel has ever had," Epshteyn, who also serves as a strategic advisor to Trump's campaign, said in a statement.
Epshteyn also lauded Trump for fighting "against anti-Semitism in America and throughout the world" and for moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
The news broke the same day President Donald Trump reportedly led a White House call to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, which begins this year on Friday (Sept. 18) at sundown. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Trump urged American Jews to vote for him, saying during the call that voting for Democrats would leave Israel “in big trouble.”
“We really appreciate you,” Trump reportedly said as he signed off the call, an annual pre-Rosh Hashanah presidential tradition. “We love your country also.”
Both the news of the Jewish outreach effort and the Rosh Hashanah call come on the heels of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain establishing formal diplomatic relations with Israel, a deal brokered by the White House that is now officially being referred to as the “Abraham Accords” — a reference to the biblical patriarch revered by Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike.
Although a recent poll found that most Jewish voters (64%) listed concern for Israel as important, it ranked last among the major issues listed. Asked whether former Vice President Joe Biden or Trump was more trustworthy regarding U.S.-Israel relations, most chose the Democrat (46% vs. 32%).
“Which really amazes me, and I have to tell you, because I saw a poll that in the last election, I got 25% of the Jewish vote and I said here I have a son-in-law and a daughter who are Jewish, I have beautiful grandchildren that are Jewish. I have all of these incredible achievements,” Trump reportedly said on the White House call. “I’m amazed that it seems to be almost automatically a Democrat.”
Trump may be hoping to chip away at Biden’s lead with the group. Although 67% of Jewish voters surveyed said they plan to vote for the former vice president and only 30% said they plan to vote for Trump, Biden has yet to match the support Hillary Clinton enjoyed in 2016, when she won 71% of the group.