• Insider met with Republicans Overseas in Israel to discuss Donald Trump's popularity in the country.
  • In Petah Tikva, there's a rotary dedicated to the former president. It's called "Trump Square."
  • In a Truth Social post last month, Trump wrote he could "easily" be the country's prime minister.

In the US, Trump has had a bruising week, and now his political reputation as a king-maker is in question after his midterm picks flopped. But in Israel, his star still shines brightly.

In the center of Petah Tikva, a largely middle-class city near Tel Aviv, sits an unassuming rotary with US and Israeli flags and the name of a former president in bold letters.

It's named in honor of former President Donald Trump, a figure who is generally beloved in the country.

Trump Square's modest sign reads: "The USA's 45th president and the first to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel."

In late October, across the street from the local landmark, Insider met with five members of Republicans Overseas in Israel, an advocacy group for GOP supporters in the country, who were standing admiring it. 

"You have this roundabout sitting in the middle of Petah Tikva, a left-leaning city, and this goes to show that the left in Israel appreciates Donald Trump just as much as the right," David Weiner, the group's field director, said to the others.

Five members of Republicans Overseas in Israel congregate by Trump Square. Foto: Joshua Zitser/Insider

"Israel never had a president who is as supportive and helpful as US President Donald Trump," Rami Greenberg, the mayor of Petah Tikva, at the unveiling of Trump Square in 2019. It was dedicated to the then-president for moving the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. 

The decision, which saw the US recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, drew widespread international outrage

The Arab League called it a "blatant attack on the feelings of Arabs and Muslims," world leaders said it violated international law, and the United Nations voted overwhelmingly to condemn it. Rami Hamdallah, the prime minister of Palestine, said the policy change "destroys the peace process."

In the US, it was also divisive. Groups such as J Street, a left-leaning Middle East think tank, described it as undermining peace efforts.

Though global governments considered it contentious and Palestinians derided it, the majority of Jewish Israelis welcomed it. A 2018 University of Maryland poll of 650 Israeli Jewish people found that 73% of those surveyed supported moving the embassy. 

Hillel Abraham wore a Hebrew 'Keep America Great' cap

"The atmosphere here, after, toward Trump, was great," Weiner, who was born in New Jersey but has lived in Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem, since he was a child, said.

"When he said he would move the embassy, he did," Weiner continued. "Everything he said he would do, we believed he would do it."

Hillel Abraham, a lifelong Republican from New Jersey who moved to Israel a decade ago, nodded in agreement. He wore a red cap with "Keep America Great" written in Hebrew letters on it.

"Trump was the first one to say, 'I don't care about world opinion,'" Abraham said.

Hillel Abraham wears a red cap with 'Keep America Great' written in Hebrew letters on it. Foto: Joshua Zitser/Insider

According to Pew Research Center polling of 18 nations in June of this year, Israel is an international outlier — it's the only Western country to prefer Trump over President Joe Biden.

Trump referred to this in a controversial Truth Social post last month, in which he lamented the lack of appreciation he was receiving from Jewish Americans compared to Evangelical Christians and Israelis. The White House described the post as antisemitic, and Jewish groups criticized it.

Trump wrote: "No President has done more for Israel than I have. Somewhat surprisingly, however, our wonderful Evangelicals are far more appreciative of this than the people of the Jewish faith, especially those living in the US Those living in Israel, though, are a different story — Highest approval rating in the World, could easily be P.M.!"

His support in Israel is significant and spans the political spectrum. It's not unusual to hear secular, left-of-center people from Tel Aviv praising him. In 2019, Pew Research Center polling found that 71% of Israelis who responded to the polls viewed Trump favorably. 

It isn't the case with Jewish Americans, however. In a poll of 800 voters by GBAO Strategies for J Street, 77% of Jewish Americans who responded to the poll voted for Biden in 2020.

'When it came to Israel, we knew he was very strong'

The group's members said that foreign-policy decisions affecting Israel are a key factor. Not only was the embassy move popular, but Trump's decision to recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel also won him support. Another location named after the former president, Ramat Trump, is a settlement in the Golan Heights.

Global governments and Palestinians alike condemned the Golan Heights decision, but Israeli leaders across the political spectrum praised the move.

"When it came to Israel, we knew he was very strong," Weiner said, adding that it showed Trump was committed to Israel's safety. Often being at war with its neighbors since it became a state in 1948, the Israeli view on politics is often an existential one.

"Ultimately, it's about both security and finance," Weiner continued. "It doesn't matter if you're left or right. Those are the two biggest things. That's when you get the support."

To the agreement of the rest of the group, Weiner added that Trump's connections to Judaism also impact how Jewish people in Israel view him.

"His daughter, Ivanka, is Jewish, married to a guy who is Jewish, and if you watch 'The Apprentice,' almost all his advisors are Jewish," he said. "He has a much stronger connection to Israel than some of the secular Jewish communities."

'He understands the Middle East mentality'

For Judith Segaloff, an American writer from Michigan who now lives in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Trump's character is key. He's almost Israeli in temperament, she joked.

"Trump got us," she said. "He understood us in a way that no other president ever did. He understands the Middle East mentality, the trading mentality, the negotiating mentality."

She said that watching "The Apprentice" made her believe that Trump could bring a "different perspective to politics." Segaloff said she was so inspired that she once auditioned for the show. 

But for Alan Silver, a religious Jew from South Africa living in Israel, it's also about ideological factors.

He said the US becomes "woke" under Democrats, and the country's cultural influence means the same happens overseas. "When America sneezes, the world catches a cold," he said. Trump would protect religion and the "family unit," he added.

Silver has no connection to the US but helped Republicans Overseas get absentee votes in 2016. He said his appreciation for Trump encouraged him to get involved.

Silver recounted how he gave free candy to local children after Trump won in 2016 and added that he now offers discounts to customers in his hardware store who say the anti-Biden slogan, "Let's Go, Brandon."

Read the original article on Business Insider

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