Former Israeli ambassador to Washington, DC, Ron Dermer called U.S. evangelical Christians the “backbone” of American support for Israel, during at televised conference Sunday.
Speaking with Israel’s Channel 12 reporter Amit Segal at a conference organized by the Makor Rishon news outlet, the former Israeli ambassador in Washington indicated Israel’s main support in the U.S. does not come from Jewish Americans.
“People have to understand [that] the backbone of Israel’s support in the United States is the evangelical Christians. That’s the backbone,” he said.
“And it’s true because of numbers and also because of their passionate and unequivocal support for Israel,” he added.
In a jaw-dropping interview Former Israeli ambassador in Washington Ron Dermer tells @amit_segal the backbone of Israel’s support in the U.S. is the evangelical Christians and not American Jews @MakorRishon pic.twitter.com/g8UASanwDx
— Yonit Levi (@LeviYonit) May 9, 2021
Regarding the sheer size of supporters, Dermer said to simply look at the numbers.
“About 25% [of Americans] — some people think more — are evangelical Christians. Less than two percent of Americans are Jews,” he explained. “So if you look just at numbers, you should be spending a lot more time doing outreach to evangelical Christians than you would do to Jews.”
The former envoy said supporting the Jewish state is a top priority for many evangelicals.
“For most evangelicals in the United States — certainly for many of them — Israel is one of the most important issues to them,” he said. “For some it’s number one.”
Noting that some Jewish Republicans and Democrats are disproportionately the “strongest champions and greatest defenders [of Israel],” Dermer explained Jews are also disproportionate among Israel’s critics.
“Some of the fiercest criticism for Israel comes from American Jews,” he said, adding, “It’s very rare to see evangelical Christians leading criticism of Israel.”
Dermer also noted evangelical support for Israel has led the way in fighting against BDS [the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement] and the Iranian nuclear deal.
“The battle that we had to fight the nuclear deal with Iran — that was led by evangelicals in the United States,” he said. “The force in states across the United States that are working to fight BDS [and] to pass legislation in the states… that’s led by evangelical Christians.”
Dermer also acknowledged the crucial role of evangelicals in the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“When [former President Donald] Trump went to those rallies during his campaign and afterwards and he spoke about Jerusalem, tens of thousands of people would rally and applaud him,” Dermer said. “He wasn’t speaking at the Reform [Jewish] Convention of America, he was speaking to evangelical Christians.”
On Tuesday, former President Donald Trump released a statement condemning the Biden administration for showing “weakness and lack of support for Israel” amid Palestinian terror raids.
“When I was in office we were known as the Peace Presidency, because Israel’s adversaries knew that the United States stood strongly with Israel and there would be swift retribution if Israel was attacked,” the statement read.
“Under [President Joe] Biden, the world is getting more violent and more unstable because Biden’s weakness and lack of support for Israel is leading to new attacks on our allies,” Trump explained.
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.