Trump accuses Jews voting for Democrats of ‘great disloyalty’ following attacks on Tlaib

By: - August 21, 2019 9:37 am

President Donald J. Trump waves Sunday, July 7, 2019, as he prepares to board Air Force One at the Morristown Municipal Airport in Morristown, N.J., for his return to Washington, D.C. | Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead via Flickr Public Domain

President Donald Trump accused Jewish Americans who vote for Democrats of “disloyalty” Tuesday.

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

Jewish people have historically been subjected to “dual loyalty” attacks. Trump’s remarks followed Israel’s decision last week to bar U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the country after Trump advocated for it in light of their pro-Palestinian activism. Tlaib eventually decided not to travel to visit her grandmother in the Palestinian territories after Israel lifted the ban.

Tlaib and Omar appeared Monday in Minneapolis, flanked by Jewish Americans and Palestinian Americans alike, to criticize the Israeli government for its policies in the West Bank in light of last week’s events.

“We must be asking as Israel’s ally that [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu stop the expansion of settlements on Palestinian land and ensure full rights for Palestinians if we are to give them aid,” Omar said. “We know Donald Trump would love nothing more than to use this issue to pit Muslims and Jewish Americans against each other.”

That led to Trump’s redoubling his rhetoric against the two progressive lawmakers, as well as their fellow “Squad” members in Congress, U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), saying their criticism of the Israeli government represented the “new face of the Democrat Party [sic].”

He also singled out Tlaib, saying, “Sorry, I don’t buy Rep. Tlaib’s tears. I have watched her violence, craziness and, most importantly, WORDS, for far too long. Now tears? She hates Israel and all Jewish people. She is an anti-Semite.”

It was not clear what was the “violence” to which the president was referring.

Tlaib shared in response part of a statement from the progressive National Lawyers Guild, in which the group argued, “For the President to openly express views that are so clearly racist is a repudiation of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution.”

Michigan’s Democratic Jewish Caucus responded Tuesday to Trump’s “disloyalty” comments, as well, saying he was “Invoking one of the oldest antisemitic canards in the book.

“We are appalled by the President’s disloyalty smear against American Jews, which hearkens back to the worst rhetoric of 20th Century dictators and autocrats,” said Noah Arbit, the caucus’ founder and chair. “As the 2020 election nears, the Michigan Democratic Jewish Caucus will continue to work with our partners and allies across Michigan and build a robust campaign to elect a President who will stand up to antisemitism, not stoke its most noxious of flames.”

Meanwhile, the national Republican Jewish Caucus defended Trump’s comments on Twitter, saying “President Trump is right,” and that “it shows a great deal of disloyalty to oneself to defend a party that protects/emboldens people that hate you for your religion.”

A Republican congressman, Mark Green of Tennessee, accused Tlaib of anti-Semitism during a Fox News appearance Tuesday, saying, “Obviously she hates Jews more than she likes her grandmother.” 

The Israeli government offered Tlaib a travel exception late last week to see her elderly grandmother, which Tlaib declined, saying its “oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother’s heart.”

In that statement explaining her decision, Tlaib said, “Racism and the politics of hate is thriving in Israel and the American people should fear what this will mean for the relationship between our two nations. If you truly believe in democracy, then the close alignment of [Prime Minister Bibi] Netanyahu with Trump’s hate agenda must prompt a re-evaluation of our unwavering support for the State of Israel.”

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Derek Robertson
Derek Robertson

Derek Robertson is a former reporter for the Advance. Previously, he wrote for Politico Magazine in Washington. He is a Genesee County native and graduate of both Wayne State University, where he studied history, and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.