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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Trump says Jews who support Democrats ‘hate Israel’ and ‘their religion’

Former President Donald Trump speaks during a Buckeye Values PAC Rally in Dayton, Ohio on March 16, 2024. Trump accused Jews who vote for Democrats of hating their religion and Israel, reviving and escalating a claim he made as president that Jewish Democrats were disloyal; the comments echo an antisemitic trope and escalate claims he made as president that were widely criticized. (Maddie McGarvey/The New York Times)

By Chris Cameron

Former President Donald Trump accused Jews who vote for Democrats of hating their religion and Israel, reviving and escalating a claim he made as president that Jewish Democrats were disloyal.

A few hours later, facing mounting criticism from Jewish groups, Trump’s campaign repeated his incendiary charge, declaring that “Trump is right” and that the Democratic Party “has turned into a full-blown anti-Israel, antisemitic, pro-terrorist cabal.”

Trump made his remarks in an interview published online Monday with Sebastian Gorka, a former White House aide for Trump who now hosts a conservative talk radio program. Gorka asked Trump about criticism that prominent Democrats — including President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer — had levied against Benjamin Netanyahu, the right-wing prime minister of Israel.

“I actually think they hate Israel,” Trump replied. Gorka agreed.

“Any Jewish person that votes for Democrats hates their religion,” Trump added later. “They hate everything about Israel, and they should be ashamed of themselves because Israel will be destroyed.”

Democratic officials “hate Israel,” he said, because they want votes from people who are sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza, where more than 30,000 people have been killed in the war there.

“Don’t forget, when you see those Palestinian marches — even I am amazed at how many people are in those marches,” Trump said. “And guys like Schumer see that, and to him it’s votes. I think it’s votes more than anything else, because he was always pro-Israel. He’s very anti-Israel now.”

A White House spokesperson described Trump’s comments as “vile and unhinged antisemitic rhetoric.”

“There is no justification for spreading toxic, false stereotypes that threaten fellow citizens,” said Andrew Bates, a deputy press secretary for Biden, adding that the Biden administration “will never give hate any safe harbor, including today.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League — a Jewish advocacy group — said that “accusing Jews of hating their religion because they might vote for a particular party is defamatory and patently false.”

Schumer called Trump’s remarks “highly partisan and hateful rants.”

“To make Israel a partisan issue only hurts Israel and the US-Israeli relationship,” Schumer said on social media, adding, “I am working in a bipartisan way to ensure the US-Israeli relationship sustains for generations to come, buoyed by peace in the Middle East.”

Trump had received significant criticism for similar comments he made as president, when he repeatedly accused Jewish voters of disloyalty if they voted for Democrats. Those remarks, and Trump’s comments Monday, evoke an antisemitic trope that Jews have a “dual loyalty” and are often more loyal to Israel than to their own countries.

Jewish Democrats quickly expressed outrage at Trump’s remarks.

“Another day, another depraved antisemitic screed from Donald Trump, who has repeatedly vilified the overwhelmingly majority of American Jews,” Halie Soifer, CEO of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said on social media. (Jews are considered to be one of the most consistently liberal and Democratic demographics in America.)

Amy Spitalnick, CEO of the liberal Jewish Council for Public Affairs, said on social media that Trump was “further normalizing dangerous antisemites.”

Schumer had, in a carefully worded speech last week, said Netanyahu was an impediment to peace and called for new elections in Israel. The partisan backlash was immediate, with Republicans accusing Schumer of being anti-Israel and of betraying one of America’s closest allies. Trump appeared to latch on to those criticisms but escalated them far beyond what most Republicans have said on the matter.

His remarks to Gorka also followed an incendiary, freewheeling speech in Ohio on Saturday, where he said some migrants are “not people” and that the country would face a “blood bath” if he lost the election in November.

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