Donald Trump has some thoughts about whom Jews should be voting for, and they will not surprise you. But the ongoing debate about whether the Jewish vote is up for grabs misses a couple of far more relevant points.

Trump, first of all, has an obnoxious habit of deeming Democratic-voting Jews as heretics, and he repeated it yesterday when telling reporters that Jews who vote for Biden “should have their head examined.” This treads dangerously close to the “good Jews/bad Jews” dichotomy mostly favored by people who do not like Jews very much. Trump isn’t such a person, but many of his fans are. If this is an appeal to Jewish voters, it is boneheaded. If it is really a winking message to his supporters on the New Right, it is morally repugnant. It’s true, as some are quick to point out, that President Biden has made such comments about black voters, and others—Harry Reid most prominently—have said it about Hispanic voters. But a bad message is not made better by its proliferation.

It is, however, indicative of a larger issue with Trump that gives Jewish Americans pause. As with progressive groups who say Jews should vote Democrat because they are champions of abortion and taxes, it takes transactional politics to an unseemly place.

And that brings us to what really has Jewish Americans scratching their heads about Trump lately: He has been undermining his own claim to their trust even on the issue on which he pronounces himself rock solid: Israel. Trump has this idea that President Biden’s capitulation to his progressive base, in which he has tossed Hamas lifelines and Israel rotten tomatoes, makes Trump the default “Israel candidate.”

Biden’s turn has absolutely been a major disappointment to American Jews, and there’s no sugarcoating it. But every time Trump opens his mouth these days he has harsh words for Israel’s war effort too. The universal critique of Biden’s wider foreign policy is that he has eroded U.S. credibility by allowing the most extreme voices in his party to steer his agenda, when for nearly six months he seemed to resist exactly that capitulation. The result is that America has become an unpredictable and unreliable ally.

Is Trump offering a steady hand on the tiller in contrast? “They’re releasing the most heinous, most horrible tapes of buildings falling down,” Trump said of Israel’s PR strategy, a classic Trump focus. “And people are imagining there’s a lot of people in those buildings … and they don’t like it. And I don’t know why they released, you know, wartime shots like that. … To me, it doesn’t make them look tough.” In general, Trump exudes impatience: “I’m not sure that I’m loving the way they’re doing it.”

That impatience, not what he feels in his heart about Jews or Israel, is what matters strategically. And his tetchiness doesn’t exactly soothe nerves. “The first person that congratulated [Biden] was Bibi Netanyahu, the man that I did more for than any other person I dealt with,” he reportedly told Axios’s Barak Ravid. “Bibi could have stayed quiet. He has made a terrible mistake.” Sour grapes over perceived personal effrontery seems to be a theme. Soon after the Oct. 7 attacks, Trump ranted about how Israel supposedly left the U.S. out on a limb in its assassination of Iranian terror master Qassem Suleimani: “I’ll never forget that Bibi Netanyahu let us down. That was a very terrible thing. So we were disappointed by that. Very disappointed. But we did the job ourself. It was absolute precision, magnificent, beautiful job. And then Bibi tried to take credit for it. That didn’t make me feel too good. But that’s all right.”

Taking Netanyahu’s behavior personally and basing policy on that is one of the key mistakes Biden has made, because it has legitimized so many of Israel’s bad-faith critics. Is Trump offering a contrast or an echo of this? Hard to tell.

Lastly, the transactional framing of the relationship between the U.S. and Israel is wholeheartedly embraced by media institutions. Take today’s New York Times report on Trump’s latest comments. It contains the following truly spectacular paragraph:

“As president, Mr. Trump consistently favored Israel against the Palestinians. He moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and brokered accords between Israel and four Arab states.”

Where to start? Does the New York Times think the Golan Heights are Palestinian territory? More likely it’s just that, to the Times, the U.S. siding with Israel over Bashar al-Assad’s Syria is about hurting the Palestinians. And there’s a reason for this: The Times, like too many others who see the conflict through the “transactional” lens, deems anything good for Israel to be bad for the Palestinians. It’s why the same paragraph slams Trump for “favor[ing]” Israel by striking Israeli-Arab peace accords. The Times opposes peace in the Middle East because it means Israel will gain recognition and therefore permanence. Those who are against the Abraham Accords still believe Israel is a temporary nuisance.

Such are the dangers of thinking purely transactionally regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And this mode of thinking—regardless of which “side” you’re coming from—introduces a measure of volatility that is uniquely unsuited to the challenges of extricating the Middle East from the bloody chaos of Hamas and its Iranian patron.

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