Trump said that U.S. Jews who vote for Democrats are showing “great disloyalty” given their tolerance of anti-Semitic Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib.
By World Israel News Staff and Associated Press
President Donald Trump said Tuesday that American Jews who vote for Democrats show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”
“Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they are defending these two people over the state of Israel?” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.
“I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”
This comments came amid his ongoing feud with Democratic congresswomen Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, both Muslim.
Trump has closely aligned himself with Israel, including its conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Muslim lawmakers have been outspoken critics of Israel and have promoted the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which the U.S. House of Representatives condemned last month in a resolution as “destructive of prospects for progress towards peace.”
Tlaib and Omar are the first two congresspeople to publicly support BDS. They have compared boycotting Israel to boycotting the Nazis.
At Trump’s urging, Israel last week blocked Omar and Tlaib from entering the country. Israel later agreed to a humanitarian visit for Tlaib to visit her grandmother, who lives in Samaria.
Tlaib first agreed and then changed her mind, saying she wouldn’t accept Israel’s restrictions. Israel had asked that she not engage in BDS propaganda while visiting the country.
Trump called Omar a “disaster” for Jews and said he didn’t “buy” the tears that Tlaib shed Monday when they held a press conference condemning Israel.
Trump’s comments were denounced swiftly by liberal Jewish groups, who attempted to spin his words to suggest he was engaging in anti-Semitic stereotypes. (Jews throughout history have often been accused of “dual loyalty.”)
“This is yet another example of Donald Trump continuing to weaponize and politicize anti-Semitism,” said Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America.
“At a time when anti-Semitic incidents have increased — due to the president’s emboldening of white nationalism — Trump is repeating an anti-Semitic trope,” she said.
Logan Bayroff of the more radical J Street group said it was “no surprise that the president’s racist, disingenuous attacks on progressive women of color in Congress have now transitioned into smears against Jews.”
Ann Lewis and Mark Mellman of Democratic Majority for Israel called it “one of the most dangerous, deadly accusations Jews have faced over the years. False charges of disloyalty over the centuries have led to Jews being murdered, jailed and tortured.”
‘Disloyalty to oneself’
The Republican Jewish Coalition defended Trump, arguing that the president was speaking about people being disloyal to themselves rather than to Israel.
“President Trump is right, it shows a great deal of disloyalty to oneself to defend a party that protects/emboldens people that hate you for your religion,” the group said in a tweet. “The @GOP, when rarely confronted w/anti-Semitism of elected members always acts swiftly and decisively to punish and remove.”
Democrats cannot claim the same. They have rallied around Omar and Tlaib despite the fact that both sponsored a pro-BDS resolution in the House and engaged in anti-Israel rhetoric sometimes spilling over into anti-Semitism.
Omar, in particular, has traded in anti-Semitic stereotypes of which Trump is now being condemned. She has repeatedly raised the dual-loyalty canard concerning Jews and has said AIPAC, America’s largest pro-Israel lobbying arm, buys support, a charge that borrows heavily from another anti-Semitic trope.
The current debate began after Israel barred Omar and Tlaib from entering the country last week. Israel at first agreed to their planned visit but reversed itself, citing the trip’s itinerary as the main reason.
The itinerary referred only to “Palestine” and not Israel. It included no meetings with Israeli officials but only those from the Palestinian Authority.
Upon seeing their itinerary, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it “revealed that they planned a visit whose sole objective is to strengthen the boycott against us and deny Israel’s legitimacy.”
Recent polling shows that a majority of Jews identify as Democrats.
According to AP VoteCast, a survey of the 2018 electorate, 72% of Jewish voters supported Democratic House candidates in 2018. Similarly, 74% said they disapprove of how Trump is handling his job.
A Pew Research Center poll conducted in April found that among Jewish Americans, 42% said Trump is favoring the Israelis too much, 6% said he’s favoring the Palestinians too much and 47% said he’s striking the right balance. Jews were more likely than Christians to say Trump favors the Israelis too much, 42% to 26%.