WASHINGTON – Evangelical Christians, or “People of the Book,” are more appreciative of Donald Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem than are American Jews, the president asserted this week.
In an interview on a Christian broadcast network with Mike Huckabee, the father of his press secretary, Trump said he has received more notes of thanks from the large Christian American community that has served as his political base than the small American Jewish community, which historically votes Democratic.
“You know who really likes it the most is the Evangelicals,” Trump said. “I’ll tell you what, I get more calls of ‘thank you’ from Evangelicals, and I see it in the audiences and everything else, than I do from Jewish people. And the Jewish people appreciate it, but the Evangelicals appreciate it more than the Jews, which is incredible.”
Huckabee, who advocated for the embassy move throughout his own political career and who identifies as an Evangelical, replied by suggesting the move affected Christians more than Jews.
“It’s not a surprise though, Mr. President, because Evangelicals are people of the book,” Huckabee said. “And they believe you kept a promise, were fulfilling really a 3,000-year-old commitment to recognize Jerusalem as the capital.”
Huckabee attended the embassy opening in May, at which several Evangelical figures spoke and offered prayers.
Trump announced the embassy move in December, when he also formally recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital – a move condemned worldwide, except in Israel itself, where a large majority embraced the decision.
“I think it’s a nice thing to say because it really affects Jewish people in theory more, but as you say, people of the book, people of the Bible,” Trump said. “But the Evangelicals really appreciate it and that makes me feel good.”
According to recent surveys, three out of four Evangelical Christians support the Republican president. That contrasts with minimal support for Trump amongst American Jews, who in 2016 voted for his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, nearly three to one.
Trump administration officials say his decision to move the embassy does not prejudge sovereignty over the ancient city, which is claimed by both Jews and Palestinians as their capital.