Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Biden White House don’t agree on much. But they were united in their rebukes of Donald Trump’s recent comments criticizing Israel and calling Hezbollah “smart.”
During a speech in Florida Wednesday night, Trump went after Israel’s intelligence officials for failing to anticipate the recent attack from Hamas, and called Hezbollah, Lebanon’s Iranian-backed militia group, “very smart.”
He also said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “let us down” on the operation to kill Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, and called Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant a “jerk.”
DeSantis, a Republican presidential hopeful, posted a clip of the remarks and said “it is absurd that anyone, much less someone running for President, would choose now to attack our friend and ally, Israel, much less praise Hezbollah terrorists.”
The White House said in a statement that Trump’s comments are “dangerous and unhinged,” adding that, “It’s completely lost on us why any American would ever praise an Iran-backed terrorist organization as ‘smart.’”
In a statement, Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said Trump was simply pointing out that it was “incompetent” for Biden officials to say that northern Israel, near the border with Lebanon, was susceptible to an attack.
“Smart does not equal good. It just proves Biden is stupid,” Cheung said. Trump also said in his speech that the U.S. will “fully support Israel” if he’s reelected to the White House.
— Shelby Talcott contributed to this report.
The View From Israel
Israelis largely welcomed Biden’s forceful show of support for the country, The Wall Street Journal reported. “Israelis watched the speech and cried,” one resident told a radio network. The Jerusalem Post said Biden’s speech ”set a new standard of support for the Jewish state.”
The Times of Israel noted that Trump’s remarks ”stood in sharp contrast to the full-throated support given to Israel” by Biden.
Trump and Netanyahu had a close relationship when he was in the White House, but Trump has criticized him since then. ”Fuck him,” Trump reportedly said in 2021, outraged that Netanyahu congratulated Biden on winning the 2020 election that Trump falsely insists was stolen.
“Bibi could have stayed quiet. He has made a terrible mistake,” Trump told Axios’ Barak Ravid at the time.
Trump’s current criticism of Netanyahu, though, appears to be in line with how many Israelis feel. A new poll of Jewish Israelis found that 86% blame the government and Netanyahu for failing to prevent Hamas’s attack, and a slimmer majority think Netanyahu should resign at the end of the war.