Saturday, April 6, 2019 | 3:15 p.m.
Presidential Donald Trump aimed his re-election message at Jewish voters Saturday at the national meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, casting Democrats as an anti-Israel contingent and hyping his own pro-Israel policies in his first visit to Nevada since the 2018 midterms.
In a room filled with senators, Nevada Republican leadership, administration officials and members of the right-leaning Republican Jewish Coalition, Trump spoke at length on multiple topics — many specific to the nation of Israel — including his recent recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory and the move of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Jewish voters are a traditional Democratic voting bloc. In the 2018 elections, 79 percent of religious Jewish voters cast their ballot for a Democrat. Republicans, for obvious reasons, would like to change that.
Here are five takeaways from the president’s address Saturday at the Venetian.
Iran nuclear deal
Trump touted his removal of the United States from the Iranian nuclear deal, an agreement negotiated in 2015 between Iran, the European Union, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (the U.S., Russia, China, France and United Kingdom) plus Germany. Under terms of the deal, Iran would be allowed to develop a nuclear program but no nuclear weapons, in return for economic sanctions against Iran being lifted.
The Trump administration pulled out of the agreement in May 2018. The other signees to the agreement have remained.
“Last year I withdrew the United States from one of the most dangerous, one-sided deals ever negotiated — the disastrous Iran nuclear deal,” Trump told the audience.
The agreement requires Iran to submit to random inspections on its nuclear facilities, which pro-deal commentators have said could be the best method for ensuring peaceful nuclear projects in Iran don’t turn out to be a cover for weapons-making.
Trump has dismissed these concerns in the past.
Without evidence, Trump also claimed that Iranian representatives shouted “Death to Israel” while signing the deal. There is, again, nothing that supports this.
The December announcement that Trump would move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem was received with excitement from some conservative Jewish groups and Israel but was met with hostility from several Middle Eastern countries and concern from Western allies.
Trump said leaders of other nations asked him to reconsider, but he avoided talking to them until after his decision was made.
“(I moved the embassy), and then I started calling people back,” he said.
Trump said that past presidents had said they would move the embassy to Jerusalem but had not followed through.
“Unlike other presidents, I keep my promises,” he said.
Palestinian and other groups oppose the decision due to, among other issues, the status of East Jerusalem. East Jerusalem has long been desired by Palestinians as the capital of a future state, and the decision was left open in the 1993 Oslo Accords.
The opening of the embassy building in May coincided with large-scale protests on the border of Gaza and Israel in which dozens were killed.
Trump said Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, who donated millions to his campaign and were sitting in the front row for his speech at their hotel, were excited about the move.
“I can tell you, Sheldon and Miriam, that is the most important thing, I think, that’s ever happened in their life,” Trump said. “They love Israel.”
Another surprise decision, the recognition of Israel’s ownership of the Golan Heights last month by Trump, sparked backlash from the international community but acclaim from Israel and conservative groups.
Part of the Golan Heights, a territory on the border of Israel and Syria, was captured by Israel in 1967 during the Six-Day War and annexed by the Jewish state in 1981. The international community, largely, has not recognized the Golan as Israeli territory.
Trump said he made his decision to recognize Israel's ownership of the Golan Heights while speaking with David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, and Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law. The three were discussing the strategic importance of the region, which is higher than the surrounding land, giving whoever controls it a military advantage.
“I said, 'All right, good … they weren’t even calling about this, how do you like the idea of me recognizing exactly what we discussed because I agree, you need it,'” Trump said.
“I went 'bing' — it was done,” Trump said. “We make fast decisions. And we make good decisions.”
The president defended his border wall push and national emergency declaration to the crowd, falsely calling Democrats the party of open borders. (Open borders is not a policy position of the Democratic Party.) He said unusually high numbers — 100,000 in the last month — of immigrants were streaming to the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Think of this: Hundreds of thousands of people, and we’re on pace to apprehend more than a million illegal migrants this year. A million,” he said. They’re coming up because of the economy. They’re coming up because our laws are so bad from the Democrats.”
Trump’s border wall was the signature proposal of his campaign, with crowds regularly chanting “Build the wall” at campaign events.
His inability to get allocated funding for the wall from Congress led to a 35-day government shutdown — the longest in the country’s history — and, afterwards, his declaration of a national emergency. House Democrats are currently suing to overturn the declaration.
The president briefly toyed with the idea of shutting down the country’s southern border recently. He said his decision not to has made the Mexican authorities apprehend undocumented immigrants at a faster rate.
Trump spoke glowingly of what he called his economic successes, touting the country’ employment and income rates.
The unemployment rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, has not risen higher than 4.4. percent since March 2017. It has routinely dropped under 4 percent in 2019.
Trump has boasted about wage increases in the past, and did so again during his stop Saturday.
“After years of stagnation, wages are rising fast. Think of it — people had one job 21 years ago. They made more money in real dollars than they did two years with three jobs and two jobs,” he said.
However that is not true. Wages began to climb under Barack Obama’s presidency, and have both risen and fallen under the Trump administration.
Trump touted his administration’s major regulation cuts, as well.
“We slashed 30,000 pages of job-killing regulations from the federal registers, an all-time record. It doesn’t matter if they were there for four years or eight years or 10 years, in one instance, we really did something,” he said.