US President Donald Trump is being attacked for comments he made suggesting Jews who vote Democrat are either ignorant or disloyal.
Trump was speaking to the press in the Oval Office about two Democratic congresswomen barred from entering Israel over their involvement in the movement to end international support for the country because of its policies toward Palestinians.
“Five years ago, the concept of even talking about this — even three years ago — 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 added. “Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they’re defending these two people over the State of Israel?”
He added, “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”
The remark led critics to argue the President was dabbling in the anti-Semitic trope of “dual loyalty,” which questions the loyalty of Jewish citizens.
“It’s unclear who @POTUS is claiming Jews would be ‘disloyal’ to, but charges of disloyalty have long been used to attack Jews. 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,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted later Tuesday.
Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, called the comments “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. 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,” Soifer added.
J Street, a liberal advocacy group focused on reaching a resolution between Israel and the Palestinian territories, said in a statement, “It is dangerous and shameful for President Trump to attack the large majority of the American Jewish community as unintelligent and ‘disloyal.’ “
As usual, I like to hear from the source. So I watched what Trump said, and in what context.
I think it is clear he meant Jews who vote Democrat (the party in which clear Israel haters and antisemites like Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are so prominent, are being idolized, and their comments and conduct defended) are either ignorant or disloyal to their own people. He was clearly not suggesting these Jews are disloyal Americans, and anyone who claims this is being disingenuous (or did not bother to actually watch Trump’s presser).
Having said that, I feel the comments were misguided. For a start, it is not fair to suggest Jews who vote Democrat are all disloyal to their fellow Jews. There are plenty of Democrat voting-Jews who love and support Israel, and deplore Tlaib, Omar and the other squad members for their Israel hatred and antisemitism.
But I do believe any Jews who actually support these antisemites are selling out their fellow Jews.
Also, given the connotation around the word “disloyalty” when it comes to the Jewish people, especially with so many claiming Trump is an antisemite (I do not believe this for a second), he should have stayed very far away from it. I think he could have made his point better had he said something like “I think any Jewish people who support and defend Tlaib and Omar are — it shows either a total lack of knowledge or complete indifference to the plight of their fellow Jews living in the Jewish state.”
I suspect many of you will take issue with anything Donald Trump says, and believe he should not comment on the Jewish people at all. Fair enough, but we all know he is always going to express his opinion, more often than not without a filter.
Be that as it may, I prefer to judge him fairly; this means to criticize him based on legitimate things and praise him when he gets things right. I am not pro or anti-Trump, I am just pro-truth.
Those shouting about his supposed antisemitism should instead focus on the very real antisemitism and hatemongering of Tlaib, Omar and company. They are the real danger here.
Update: An interesting take:
We have a tradition in Judaism, that when Jews start and want to forget they are Jews, the non-Jews come around and remind us. Usually the method involves a lot of discrimination, violence and ultimately mass-murder.
Yesterday we witnessed something very different, something unusual.