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- President Donald Trump said that Jewish Americans voting for Democrats suggests they are "disloyal" to the United States in Tuesday comments to reporters in the Oval Office.
- Trump was criticizing two congresswomen, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, who were banned by the Israeli government from entering the country.
- Both congresswomen have sharply criticized what they perceive to be the Israeli government’s human abuses against Palestinians.
Trump said on Tuesday, "I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty."
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President Donald Trump said that Jewish Americans voting for Democrats suggests they are "disloyal" to the United States in Tuesday comments to reporters in the Oval Office.
In making the comments, Trump was criticizing two congresswomen, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, who were initially banned by the Israeli government from entering the country on a scheduled trip they planned to take during Congress’ August recess.
Both congresswomen, who are also the first Muslim women to serve in Congress, have sharply criticized what they perceive to be Israeli government’s human abuses against Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, and have spoken out in support of the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
In a joint press conference on Monday, Omar and Tlaib slammed Israel for barring them from entering at first and later offering to allow them into the country on "humanitarian grounds," an offer they rejected.
Omar said that Israel’s behavior in banning two elected officials from coming into the country was not appropriate for a US ally, and that the US should substantially cut foreign aid to Israel, a statement Trump discussed at length in his remarks.
"But these two, Omar and Tlaib. I think it would be a very bad thing for Israel. I would not cut off aid to Israel. I can’t even believe that we are having this conversation. Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they are defending these two people over the state of Israel?," Trump said.
"I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty," he added.
Trump, in a highly unprecedented move, publicly encouraged Israel to block the two congresswomen from entering, tweeting they would be showing "great weakness" by doing so. He has ratcheted up his attacks against the two congresswomen in recent days, publicly accusing them of being anti-Semitic and hating Israel.
In mid-July, Trump was criticized for a series of inflammatory tweets instructing a group of progressive congresswomen of color including Omar and Tlaib to "go back and fix the totally broken and crime-infested places" from which they came.
In the Monday press conference, Tlaib broke down in tears discussing her 90-year-old Palestinian grandmother. While Israel told Tlaib she could go to the West Bank to visit her grandmother, Tlaib rejected their conditions, saying, "visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in — fighting against racism, oppression & injustice."
Trump’s current attacks against Omar and Tlaib aren’t the first time Trump has accused the Democratic Party of being anti-Israel and called on Jewish voters to vote for the GOP.
After Omar publicly criticized the influence of the Israel lobby in March, Trump claimed that "Jewish people are leaving the Democratic Party" and "there is anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party. They don’t care about Israel or the Jewish people."
In recent political history, however, Jewish voters have backed Democrats by overwhelming margins. The Pew Research Center reports that in the November 2018 midterm elections, 79% of self-described Jewish voters voted for the Democratic candidate in their congressional district, up from 66% of Jewish voters who voted for Democrats in the 2014 midterms.
In Congress itself, every sitting Jewish US Senator and all but two of the 32 currently-serving Jewish members of the House of Representatives are Democrats.
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