JTA — At a virtual fundraiser organized by J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, Joe Biden said that US President Donald Trump is bad for Israel because he runs a feckless foreign policy.
“Trump’s put Israel in danger by tearing up the Iran nuclear deal and replaced it with nothing,” Biden said Thursday, a day before Trump announced his administration had brokered a peace deal between Israel and Bahrain. “He’s allowed Israel’s foes to take residence in Syria, a dangerous power vacuum has formed. He’s undermined the stability of self-determination for the Palestinians, undercutting hope for a viable two-state solution any chance that he gets.”
Also Thursday, Jewish Insider reported that Haim Saban, the Israeli-American billionaire entertainment mogul who is identified with center-to-right pro-Israel policies, is organizing a minimum $500,000 a ticket fundraiser for Biden.
Saban, who supported Hillary Clinton in 2016, had stayed away from presidential politics this cycle until now. He had indicated in the past that he would break with the party if the Democrats nominated Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is critical of Israel and had talked of withholding US aid to Jerusalem.
Both fundraisers are signs that Biden is consolidating support from both the pro-Israel left and center as the campaign rolls into its final six weeks.
Trump has built a formidable bloc of support among the pro-Israel right — they applaud his many moves in the Middle East, such as moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem and cutting aid to the Palestinians — and hopes to poach centrist pro-Israel Jewish voters who might normally vote Democratic.
Trump added to his Israel bonafides on Friday, announcing that his White House had brokered the deal for Bahrain to normalize ties with Israel. The announcement came less than a month after the United Arab Emirates agreed to do the same.
The J Street and Saban fundraisers underscore how intensely Democrats are focused on preserving Democratic support from the overwhelming majority of Jewish voters.
On Thursday, 10 Democrats in the US House of Representatives — half of them Jewish — wrote Trump to object to adviser Jared Kushner’s proposal to sell the UAE advanced stealth combat aircraft. Israel opposes the sale of the F-35s, which would heavily arm the UAE, and Democrats are hoping to use that issue to counter Trump’s pro-Israel narrative.
Meanwhile, Douglas Emhoff, the Jewish husband of Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, has maintained a heavy schedule of Jewish outreach appearances. On Thursday, he participated in a live panel in Aventura, Florida, with six rabbis. Biden, he said there, is “good for Israel” and would be “a president that lives by the values” shared by Jewish Americans, including tolerance.
At the end, Emhoff solicited counsel from the rabbis, according to the pool report.
“I would like some advice as I go on this journey the next 54 days to get this election,” he said.
A rabbi, who was unidentified in the report, told Emhoff, “Be healthy, stay safe and try to bring us a healthy America morally, physically and spiritually.”
Emhoff has pushed a central theme of the Biden campaign — that Trump embraces and encourages far right-wing extremists. Trump has denounced white supremacists and anti-Semites at times, but also has hedged when asked to repudiate far-right supporters, most recently in declining to condemn the QAnon movement, which backs a bundle of baseless conspiracy theories that tout Trump as a savior.
Emhoff also had appeared in virtual Jewish voter outreach events, including in the key campaign states of Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio.