Trump tells American Jews that Benjamin Netanyahu is "your prime minister"

Trump told a meeting of Republican Jews that Netanyahu was "your prime minister"

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published April 7, 2019 3:45PM (EDT)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Donald Trump (Getty/Kobi Gideon)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Donald Trump (Getty/Kobi Gideon)

President Donald Trump is facing harsh criticism from American Jewish groups and individuals after he told a Republican Jewish group that Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu was "your prime minister."

During a speech at a Republican Jewish Coalition event on Saturday, Trump touted his own supposedly pro-Israel record as president by telling the assembled Republicans that "I stood with your prime minister at the White House to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights," according to The Jerusalem Post. The president later made another comment conflating American Jews with Israelis, telling the assembly that "if implemented, the Democrats' radical agenda would destroy our economy, cripple our country, and very well could leave Israel out there all by yourselves. Can't do that."

American Jewish groups have roundly condemned Trump's comments.

"Mr. President, the Prime Minister of Israel is the leader of his (or her) country, not ours. Statements to the contrary, from staunch friends or harsh critics, feed bigotry," tweeted the American Jewish Committee.

Similarly Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, tweeted that "Mr. President, words matter. As with all elected officials, its [sic] critical for you to avoid language that leads people to believe Jews aren’t loyal Americans."

Leah Greenberg, co-executive director of Indivisible Team, tweeted, "So the President of the United States gave a speech indicating that he thinks American Jews are actually foreigners. Let’s hear from every single Republican official whether they agree, and if not, when they’ll condemn his remarks."

On the Israeli side, Haaretz columnist Allison Kaplan Sommer noted the irony of Trump criticizing Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., for causing "the terrible scourge of anti-Semitism to take root in their party and their country" and then drawing on the dual loyalty canard.

"Trump himself then proceeded to raise the specter of Jewish dual loyalty and allegiance by repeatedly failing to distinguish between the 1,500 American Jews to whom he was speaking and Jewish Israelis," Sommer wrote.

She later added, "While he didn’t use the term 'Benjamins,' Trump did refer to 'your people' when discussing his economic policy — which evokes imagery of Jewish tribalism and a cabal, and comes on the heels of previous remarks he has made related to Jews and money."

Ironically Netanyahu has recently promised that if he defeats former military chief Benny Gantz, he will annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

"I will impose sovereignty, but I will not distinguish between settlement blocs and isolated settlements," Netanyahu told a reporter, according to the Associated Press. "From my perspective, any point of settlement is Israeli, and we have responsibility, as the Israeli government. I will not uproot anyone, and I will not transfer sovereignty to the Palestinians."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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