Progressive Jews accused President Donald Trump of blaring "straightforward anti-Semitism" after he said from the Oval Office on Tuesday that Jewish Americans who vote for the Democratic Party are either ignorant or disloyal.
The smear—which sparked widespread outrage and the trending hashtag #DisloyaltoTrump—came after Trump once again baselessly accused Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) of hating Jews and Israel.
"This is an explicit dual loyalty charge wielded by the President of the United States against 80 percent of American Jews who voted against him."
"Where has the Democratic Party gone?" Trump said. "Where have they gone where they're defending these two people over the state of Israel? I think that any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty."
IfNotNow, a youth-led progressive Jewish advocacy group, quickly hit back, condemning the president for once again deploying the kind of hate-filled rhetoric that has fueled recent anti-Semitic attacks in the United States.
"This is an explicit dual loyalty charge wielded by the president of the United States against 80 percent of American Jews who voted against him," the group said in a statement to Newsweek, alluding to 2018 midterm election data from the Pew Research Center.
"It is not merely an anti-Semitic dog whistle—it's a bullhorn to his white nationalist base," said IfNotNow. "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... oppose those policies, like unchecked settlement expansion."
The idea that Jews are disloyal and trying to undermine our country from the left has been the animating force behind the deadly, antisemitic violence we've seen under the Trump administration.
This rhetoric from the president is going to get Jews killed. It already has. https://t.co/nWSAD6ZUtU
— IfNotNow (@IfNotNowOrg) August 20, 2019
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Trump's attack on American Jews comes days after he publicly urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop Tlaib and Omar from entering Israel.
The Israeli government last week initially barred both lawmakers, but later said Tlaib could make the trip to visit her 90-year-old grandmother who lives in the occupied West Bank—provided that she refrain from expressing support for boycott activities.
Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman ever elected to Congress, refused to accept these "oppressive" conditions and decided on Friday to cancel her planned trip.
Trump has since been intensifying his attacks on Tlaib and Omar, and on Tuesday he expanded his smears to the Jews who have rallied in support of the two progressive lawmakers.
Beth Miller, government affairs manager at Jewish Voice for Peace Action, told Newsweek that Trump's comments "play into the anti-Semitic trope of Jews holding 'dual-loyalty'" and were "wildly disconnected from reality."
"A rapidly growing number of American Jews support conditioning, cutting, or ending U.S. military aid to a country that uses our tax dollars to violently oppress Palestinians," said Miller.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate who is Jewish, also fired back at Trump.
"Let me say this to the president," Sanders tweeted. "I am a proud Jewish person and I have no concerns about voting Democratic. And in fact, I intend to vote for a Jewish man to become the next president of the United States."