Donald Trump’s historic decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem was “unnecessary” and a “provocation” that has “incited more violence,” charged Andrew Gillum, the progressive mayor of Tallahassee who recently won Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
Gillum made those comments during a podcast interview in May on an obscure website.
The remarks provide a window into Gillum’s thinking on the Middle East in a race where Israel policy could become an issue. Gillum, whose views on Israel are largely unknown, is running against staunch Israel supporter Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis responded to the audio, saying it is “not representative of Florida values.”
“I’ve always stood by Israel, I will be the most pro-Israel governor in the country when I become Governor,” DeSantis added in a statement provided to Breitbart Jerusalem.
Gillum’s Jerusalem remarks came during an interview with far-left podcast host, Jamarlin Martin, who repeatedly made anti-Israel statements during the exchanges. Gillum’s comments were recorded in Miami on June 27, according to Martin’s podcast on GHOGH (Go Hard or Go Home), which is hosted on Moguldom.com, the domain name for Nubai Ventures, a company founded by Martin that produces editorial and video content. GHOH describes itself as providing “programming content for a Black Economic Revolution.”
During the interview, Gillum addressed Trump’s Jerusalem embassy move (emphasis added):
The right thing to do is to hold our leaders accountable. To force through thoughtful and very deliberate negotiation the two-state solution. To ensure that Palestinians have the right to self-determination. That they have the right to electing their own leadership. That just as we have in the United States sovereignty and the ability to desire for ourselves that it should also be true for Palestinians. And unfortunately, today it is not. And at the hands of this administration we now have even incited more violence by recognizing Jerusalem to be the capital and also to locate the United States embassy there. Again, just adding more fuel to the fire. I think it was a provocation by the president that was unnecessary. And it has been costly from a human toll.
Gillum’s remarks come despite the overwhelming bipartisan majority in both the House and Senate that voted for the passage of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, which called on Israel to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The act was reaffirmed in a unanimous Senate vote last year.
Gillum’s statements about the Jerusalem embassy move “inciting” violence feed into the anti-Israel narrative claiming that Hamas launched a series of deadly border riots in part because of Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy. An analysis by this reporter pointed to Hamas’s likely major motivations, including attempting to channel Gazans growing anger at Hamas over poor economic conditions instead against of Israel, and Hamas vying for a better deal during truce negotiations with Israel and reconciliation talks with Fatah rivals.
Meanwhile, Breitbart Jerusalem reported earlier today that in the same interview, Gillum accused Israel of using Gaza terror rockets to “justify” its “actions” against Palestinians.
Gillum further charged that Israel engaged in an “outsized response” against Palestinian threats and claimed alleged Israeli disproportionate “fire power” and “pushback” are the primary causes of regional instability.
The gubernatorial hopeful, whose political rise has been likened to that of Barack Obama, also did not oppose Martin when the podcast host charged Israel with “apartheid” or when the Martin claimed that Israeli forces killed over 60 Palestinians “for protesting” with “the endorsement of (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu.”
During the interview, Martin brought up Israel’s efforts to quell the recent deadly Gaza border clashes.
Gillum noted the context of the Gaza violence, saying that during a previous trip to Israel he was present when “we had Katkusha missiles that was coming across the border into the part of the country where we were visiting, which is Haifa.”
“That’s dangerous,” he added. “Right. Now that is not the Palestinian government but there are militants who are not under the control of the elected government.”
Martin interjected, “Your point of view is you do condemn Israeli military killing the protesters, but you also condemn of course Palestinians firing missiles.”
Gillum replied in the affirmative, accusing Israel of using Gaza terror rockets to “justify” alleged “actions.”
“Yeah,” Gillum replied. “That can also take lives, right. And the reason why that is important is because you have a government that is now able to justify its actions because now their citizens are in harms way.”
He continued, accusing Israel of an “outsized” response:
Imagine if in Canada. Now, I don’t think this would happen but if in Canada they began to fire missiles over the border into the United States whether they are going into barren lands or less populated lands. Believe that the United States will respond. In this case this is not direct comparable, but I say that to say that each country has the right to self-protection. Nobody wants to put their people in harms way.
And the reason why we have got to see the level of violence in these two areas in this region of the world reduced is quite frankly because Israel right now has more fire power and their push back is outsized to the threat that they are attempting to squelch. But they are able to continue that mission out of a destination that they believe they should be able to protect their citizens.
And I don’t think any of us would disagree that they shouldn’t be able to protect their citizens. At the same token, as the United Nations has said, there is something called reciprocal response. And then there is outsized response. And what we have seen is in my opinion an outsized response that has created a humanitarian crisis.
Martin began the Israel section of his interview by asking Gillum to comment on events “in May” when the host claimed that “over 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces with the endorsement of Netanyahu” and “many Democrats did not speak up. The corporate side of the party.”
“Sixty Palestinians who were throwing rocks and protesting what I view as apartheid, they don’t deserve to be shot,” Martin continued, asking Gillum to “speak to the 60 Palestinians that were murdered and the lack of democratic condemnation of that human rights violation.”
Martin was referring to Israel’s defensive actions during Hamas-organized, deadly border riots that month that saw tens of thousands of Palestinian rioters throng the Israel-Gaza border and attempt to storm into the Jewish state with the stated goal of murdering Jews. Rioters reportedly opened fire on Israeli soldiers and hurled Molotov cocktails and other deadly projectiles. Martin failed to mention that Hamas itself announced that 50 out of the 60 people who reportedly died during the May 14 riots were members of its own jihadist group and not civilians.
Gillum replied: “Yeah well I will tell you none of us can look at those images and be okay with it. Right. And I do think that the time is always right, as Dr. King says, to do what is right.”
Gillum’s comments on Israel could become an issue for him in the Florida election where Jewish voters have long been a key component of the state’s electorate. Gillum was backed in his race by billionaire George Soros.
A Jerusalem Post piece last month noted that Gillum “has no Israel paper trail.”
Over one week prior to the publication of this article, the Post reported that if one enters the words “Gillum” and “Israel” in Google then “very little of substance comes up.”
Continued the Post: “There are no public statements or speeches – something not at all unusual for a mayor. The words ‘Gillum’ and ‘Palestinians’ also do not produce any significant results.”
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Joshua Klein contributed research to this article.