Former US President Donald Trump told a radio interviewer yesterday that Israel “literally owned Congress” while commenting on the unrivalled influence that the occupation state has in Washington and the threat posed by progressive American politicians to its status.

“The biggest change I’ve seen in Congress is Israel literally owned Congress — you understand that — 10 years ago, 15 years ago. And it was so powerful. It was so powerful. And today it’s almost the opposite,” Trump said on the conservative Ari Hoffman Show. “You have between [Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] and [Ilhan] Omar — and these people that hate Israel, they hate it with a passion — they’re controlling Congress, and Israel is not a force in Congress any more.”

The former president enjoyed some of the highest approval ratings in Israel of any US president, despite being a highly polarising figure in the US and around the world. Bemoaning the alleged demise of Israel’s influence, Trump said that it had such power “rightfully” over Congress.

Unlike Israel where he enjoyed unprecedent support, his approval rating amongst American Jews was not as high. “I was told I could run for prime minister of Israel and win very easily, they like me over there… It’s incredible that I didn’t get the kind of a vote from Jewish people that you’d think I would get. Jewish people in this country, many of them, do not like Israel.”

Trump directed his anger at the New York Times, and in doing so implied that it is owned by anti-Israel Jews. “The New York Times is vicious against Israel, and it’s just a terrible thing to watch.”

The newspaper published several hard-hitting articles, including one with photos of Palestinian children killed by Israel under the headline, “They were only children“.

Trump’s latest comments echo those he made following his defeat in the 2020 US presidential election, where he appeared to blame Jews for his loss to Joe Biden. Ticking off all the things he did for Israel, Trump said: “I did the [Golan] Heights, I did Jerusalem, and I did Iran — the Iran Deal was a disaster, right? And I also did many other things. Jewish people who live in the United States don’t love Israel enough. Does that make sense to you? I’m not talking about Orthodox Jews. I believe we got 25 per cent of the Jewish vote, and it doesn’t make sense. It just seems strange to me.”