WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 09: President Donald Trump speaks to members of the press before departing from the White House on the south lawn before he boards Marine One on August 09, 2019 in Washington, DC. Donald Trump spoke to reporters about gun background checks and the escalation of the US-China trade war. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images) (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Trump revives attacks against American Jews who vote for Democrats: "You're being very disloyal"

"If you vote for a Democrat, you're being disloyal to Jewish people, and you're being very disloyal to Israel"


Shira Tarlo
August 21, 2019 9:26PM (UTC)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday revived his attacks against American Jews, declaring those who vote for Democrats to be "disloyal" to the nation of Israel and the Jewish people alike.

"If you vote for a Democrat, you're being disloyal to Jewish people, and you're being very disloyal to Israel," Trump told reporters outside of the White House. "Only weak people would say anything other than that."

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Earlier on Wednesday, Trump took to Twitter to quote a conservative radio host and known conspiracy theorist who hailed him as "the greatest President for Jews" and claimed that Israelis "love him like he is the second coming of God."

Trump's remarks came a day after he defended Israel's decision to prohibit Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan from entering the country. The lawmakers were barred from entering the country because of their support for the pro-Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

"I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty," Trump said Tuesday.

"Five years ago, the concept of even talking about this . . . of cutting off aid to Israel because of two people that hate Israel and hate Jewish people — I can't believe we're even having this conversation," Trump continued. "Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they're defending these two people over the State of Israel?"

Trump's comments appeared to confuse criticism of the Israeli government with anti-Semitism. Criticism of a particular Israeli policy or the Israeli government does not constitute anti-Semitism or hostility toward Jewish people, as the Anti-Defamation League noted.

His remarks were swiftly condemned by left-leaning Jewish groups, who argued the president was playing off anti-Semitic tropes which falsely claim Jewish Americans have a dual loyalty to Israel.

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"It's unclear who @POTUS is claiming Jews would be 'disloyal' to, but charges of disloyalty have long been used to attack Jews," Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted later Tuesday. "As we've said before, it's possible to engage in the democratic process without these claims. It's long overdue to stop using Jews as a political football."

Halie Soifer, the Jewish Democratic Council of America's executive director, called the remarks "yet another example of Donald Trump continuing to weaponize and politicize anti-Semitism."

"If this is about Israel, then Trump is repeating a dual loyalty claim, which is a form of anti-Semitism," Soifer said in a statement. "If this is about Jews being 'loyal' to him, then Trump needs a reality check."

Left-leaning Jewish advocacy group J Street called Trump's comments "disgusting," while the American Jewish Committee urged Trump to stop making his "divisive" and "disrespectful" assessments.

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The Republican Jewish Coalition, on the other hand, defended Trump.

"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 tweeted Tuesday. "The @GOP, when rarely confronted w/anti-Semitism of elected members always acts swiftly and decisively to punish and remove."

Tuesday was not the first time that Trump has accused the Democratic Party and its supporters of being "anti-Israel."

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Trump has previously suggested Jewish Americans have a dual loyalty to Israel and its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. He told the Republican Jewish Coalition in April that Netanyahu was "your prime minister."

He has also accused the Democratic Party and its supporters of being "anti-Israel" in the past.

"The Democrats have very much proven to be anti-Israel. There's no question about that," Trump said in March. "And it's a disgrace. I mean, I don't know what's happened to them, but they are totally anti-Israel. Frankly, I think they're anti-Jewish."

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The president's comments on Tuesday appear to be part of a broader effort to spotlight divisions among Democrats over Israel and anti-Semitism in an attempt to increase his popularity among Jewish Americans, who are far more likely to vote for Democrats than Republicans and oppose Trump.


Shira Tarlo

Contact Shira Tarlo at shira.tarlo@salon.com. Follow @shiratarlo.

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