FACT CHECK: Did Netanyahu Ask For Trump’s Endorsement?
Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has recently made several attempts to talk up his pro-Israel credentials by suggesting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached out to him for an endorsement for his reelection bid.
During a recent speech at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s Presidential Forum, Trump noted that his support for Israel goes so deep that he even endorsed the Israeli Premier in his 3rd reelection bid after being requested to do so by Netanyahu himself.
Last Wednesday, Trump announced, “Very soon I’m going to Israel. I’m going to be meeting with Bibi Netanyahu who’s a great guy…I love Israel and will support it whole-heartedly.” In that campaign rally speech he also noted that during Israel’s Knesset elections in 2013 he filmed a video expressing his support for Netanyahu. “He’s a good man, he’s worked very hard, he has absolutely no support from President Obama — absolutely none.”
Trump claims that his endorsement, in fact, moved Netanyahu. “According to what he said, I’m the only celebrity — he’s used the word celebrity — this was a while ago, that did commercials, that he asked to do commercials,” he said during an interview on the Hugh Hewitt radio show in September.
“My name is Donald Trump and I’m a big fan of Israel,” Trump said in the 36-second video, recorded in his office. “You truly have a great prime minister in Benjamin Netanyahu — there’s nobody like him. He’s a winner. He’s highly respected. He’s highly thought of by all. And people really do have great, great respect for what’s happened in Israel… So vote for Benjamin. Terrific guy, terrific leader. Great for Israel.”
At the time, Trump suggested that it was Netanyahu who reached out to him for an endorsement.“I was called by Bibi and his people, who I think tremendous, really fantastic about,” Trump told Shalom TV at the time. “I said absolutely. They sent a crew in from Israel, and they taped me doing a statement.”
However, the guy who produced the video, Jonny Daniels, owner of an Israeli public relations firm JDPR, told this reporter in 2013 that the video was his idea and had no connection with the Likud campaign. Daniels said that he has known Trump for a couple of years, and that he was the one who approached him and his chief political consultant, Michael Cohen, knowing of his affection and admiration for Netanyahu. “He is a big, big fan of the prime minister, he likes his leadership style, and was willing to do whatever he could do to help,” Daniels said. Adding that nobody from the Likud Party or Netanyahu’s campaign has contacted him. “It was my initiative. I paid and put together the whole video.”
“At a time when Netanyahu is openly criticized by his opponents for damaging the US-Israel relationship, Donald Trump’s endorsement, as a major American celebrity figure, sends a strong message that the American People stand with Israel and support Prime Minister Netanyahu’s leadership in safeguarding Israel’s interests,” he said.