In a disturbing statement to the media, President Donald Trump declared Tuesday that “any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat – I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.” American Jews have long fought against the common trope that they vote solely on Israel and put the interests of that country above their own. Weirdly, Trump appears to be adopting the trope with this comment. It is a deeply insulting suggestion for Jewish Americans who vote their consciences on the future of this country. Trump seemed to suggest that they are expected to be one issue voters.
This follows equally disturbing comments suggesting that four Freshman Members go back to their “original countries.” It also follows the disastrous decision of Israel to bar the entry of U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan due to their political views. Trump reportedly encouraged the move that prompted Jewish groups in the United States to denounce the action.
In his comments in the Oval Office next to Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Trump lashed out at the suggestion of Omar that the United States use its aid to Israel to ensure “full rights to Palestinians.” Trump said that “Five years ago, the concept of even talking about this … even three years ago, of cutting off aid to Israel because of two people who hate Israel and hate Jewish people… I can’t believe we’re having this conversation.”
If the politics are changing on Israel, it will be in part due to the bone-headed move against Omar and Tlaib by Israel. Trump and Israel succeeded in the impossible: getting Jewish groups to defend two members viewed as anti-Israel. Now various leading Jewish groups have denounced Trump’s loyalty comments, though Trump has refused to back off the comments.
This statement about “disloyal” Jewish voters is deeply offensive and only strains the alliance with these voters even further. Trump was already having problems. According to a Gallup poll published in March, only 26 percent of Jewish voters approve of Trump’s work at president while 71 disapprove.