Intensifying his attack against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and other freshman Congress members of color known as “the Squad,” as well as his attempt to paint them as the face of the Democratic Party, President Trump said on Tuesday afternoon, “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”
His comments, which came in the Oval Office during a meeting with Romania’s president, came in response to a reporter’s question about Omar’s suggestion that the U.S. should reconsider its aid to Israel after Israel denied entry to her and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)
“You should see the things the four of them have said about Israel over the last couple of years,” the president said.
Jewish organizations responded immediately.
“@realDonaldTrump’s appalling statement demonstrates that he understands neither American democracy, nor American Jews. He also reveals, what we suspected — his professed support for Israel is based on personal political calculation, not principled commitment,” the Democratic Majority for Israel wrote in a tweet.
IfNotNow, a group on the progressive left, went further, calling the president’s words an “explicit dual loyalty charge.”
“It is not merely an antisemitic dog whistle — it’s a bullhorn to his white nationalist base,” they said. “American Jews and Democratic voters know full well the impact of the racist policies of Netanyahu and the Israeli government on the Palestinian people. This is why an overwhelming majority to oppose those policies, like unchecked settlement expansion.”
Nearly eight in 10 Jews voted Democratic in the 2018 midterm elections.
Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said in a statement, “This is yet another example of Donald Trump continuing to weaponize and politicize anti-Semitism. 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,” said Soifer. “If this is about Israel, then Trump is repeating a dual loyalty claim, which is a form of anti-Semitism. If this is about Jews being “loyal” to him, then Trump needs a reality check. We live in a democracy, and Jewish support for the Republican Party has been halved in the past four years.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition tweeted in support of the president’s words. “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 @GOP, when rarely confronted w/anti-Semitism of elected members, always acts swiftly and decisively to punish and remove,” they said.
Sounding exasperated, the American Jewish Committee tweeted: “Enough, Mr. President. American Jews — like all Americans — have a range of political views. Your assessment of their knowledge or loyalty, based on their party preference, is divisive, disrespectful, and unwelcome. Please stop.”