The Republican president said Jewish people should not vote for the Democratic Party because some Democrats are being critical of Israel. If they did, he accused them of having “a total lack of knowledge” and showing “great disloyalty”.
US President Donald Trump courted yet another controversy on Tuesday after criticising Jewish Americans who support the Democratic Party, saying their voting choice against the Republican Party shows their "disloyalty" towards the country.
While speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump lashed out at two Muslim Democrats, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who were recently barred by Israel from visiting Palestine.
Accusing the two Congresswomen of being against Israel and Jewish people, he took a dig at the Democratic Party and their Jewish supporters, questioning their loyalty.
“Where have they [the Democratic Party] gone, where they’re defending these two people over the state of Israel? And I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” Trump said.
The evidence appears to differ from Trump's assertion, with the Jewish population in the US generally well educated, according to various research studies. From a political representation standpoint, the American minority leader in the Senate is Chuck Schumer, a Jewish American, who's also a well-known Democrat with both a sound electoral record and an impressive rhetoric against the rival Republicans.
In addition to Schumer, there are eight other Jewish Democrats in the Senate while there is no Jewish Republican in the upper chamber of the US Congress. The number of Jewish Democrats is nearly equal 10 percent of the whole Senate seats. According to recent estimates, the Jewish population in the US is approximately two percent.
One of the longest-serving liberal senators, Bernie Sanders, who is proud of his Jewish origins, also came close to being nominated as a Democratic presidential candidate against Trump in 2016.
In the House of Representatives, the Jewish representation from Democratic Party is larger than that of the Republicans. Of 27 Jewish Representatives, 25 are from Democratic Party and the remaining two are Republicans. The House’s powerful intelligence committee is led by Adam Schiff, a Jewish American who has served as a member of the Congress since 2001.
Also according to exit polls, 71 percent of Jewish Americans voted for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate in 2016, as opposed to 23 percent who voted for Trump.
Trump’s snarky remarks, especially accusing the pro-Democratic American Jewish people of being disloyal and having a “lack of knowledge” has evoked bad memories amongst the minority community. Before the Holocaust, the nationalist leaders and propagandists worldwide used similar rhetoric against the Jewish people, which triggered a wave of hatred toward them and eventually ended with their systemic killing and mass slaughter.
According to various Jewish organisations, accusing Jews living in any particular country with disloyalty amounts to anti-Semitism.
The Anti-Defamation League, one of the leading Jewish advocacy groups, was furious after Trump’s accusation of disloyalty. “It’s unclear who @POTUS is claiming Jews would be “disloyal” to, but charges of disloyalty have long been used to attack Jews,” Chief Executive Jonathan Greenblatt, said on Twitter.
“It’s long overdue to stop using Jews as a political football,” he added.
“American Jews — like all Americans — have a range of political views and policy priorities. His assessment of their knowledge or ‘loyalty,’ based on their party preference, is inappropriate, unwelcome, and downright dangerous,” said David Harris, the head of the nonpartisan American Jewish Committee.
Trump’s logical fallacy
In addition to the nationalist tirade, Trump’s “disloyalty” accusation appears to be logically problematic and vague, as Greenblatt indicated.
If the same 71 percent of the Jewish Americans vote again for the Democrats in the next elections, will they be disloyal to their Jewish identity, Israel or the US because Democratic Party has members who criticise Israel?
If it’s disloyalty to Jewishness, the question could take another form, which will be how Trump, a non-Jew, can decide that? If it is to Israel, how can a US president blame people living in the US of being disloyal to another state?
And if it’s disloyalty to the US, how can a people who vote for Democrats, one of the two major parties in the country, supporting diversity and multiculturalism, be accused of “great disloyalty”?