A host of Israeli leaders and pro-Israel voters had long been advocating for the decision that President Trump announced on Wednesday, which recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and began the process of relocating the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv. The fact that the controversial decision was carried out by a Republican president is indicative of the dramatic change in the GOP’s position on Israel since Israel was founded.
The Republican party has moved from not supporting Israel enough, in the eyes of many Jewish Americans, to backing policies that now go further than the positions espoused by many Jewish voters — but are in keeping with the views of evangelical voters. As bipartisan support for Israel erodes, the controversial move risks further accelerating a growing party split.
Jewish Americans have for decades voted overwhelmingly for the party of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who defeated Hitler and was beloved for his New Deal policies, and Democrats were the party that championed Israel when it was first established in 1948. In contrast, Israel and the Republican Party had a tumultuous relationship early on. In the 1950s, following Democratic President Harry Truman’s recognition of the state of Israel, support for the country within the Republican Party and the conservative movement was highly limited. Since the vast majority of Jews were Democrats, there was little push from within the GOP to support the newborn nation.