Trump: Jewish people who vote Democratic show 'great disloyalty'

'I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat - I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty, ' Trump told reporters.

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By Dareh Gregorian

President Donald Trump on Tuesday told reporters that "any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat" are either uninformed or show "great disloyalty."

Trump made the comments after he was asked about Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar's suggestion that the U.S. might want to reconsider how much it pays Israel in aid after she and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., were barred from entering the country last week.

He again attacked the two Democrats — saying Tlaib had said "horrible things" about Israel and that Omar is "a disaster for Jewish people." He also baselessly accused Tlaib, an American of Palestinian descent, of violence.

"I can't even believe that we're having this conversation. Five years ago, the concept of even talking about this — even three years ago — of cutting off aid to Israel because of two people that hate Israel and hate Jewish people. I can't believe we're even having this conversation," Trump fumed.

"Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they 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, alright?"

Tlaib and Omar are the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress, and both have been critical of the Israeli government and its treatment of Palestinians. The two lawmakers had been set to travel to the country this past weekend but the Israeli government announced last week that they would be barred over their support of the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement.

Omar was accused of engaging in the dual loyalty trope earlier this year over comments she has made about pro-Israel groups, especially the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee.

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"I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country," she said at an event in February. Her comments were made following backlash to a tweet she sent about AIPAC, for which she later apologized.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said those statements were anti-Semitic.

“Accusing Jews of having allegiance to a foreign government has long been a vile anti-Semitic slur that has been used to harass, marginalize, and persecute the Jewish people for centuries," Greenblatt wrote in March.

Responding to Tuesday's remarks, Greenblatt called on Trump to "stop using Jews as a political football."

Halie Soifer, Executive Director of Jewish Democratic Council of America, called Trump's comments "yet another example of Donald Trump continuing to weaponize and politicize anti-Semitism."

"At a time when anti-Semitic incidents have increased — due to the president's emboldening of white nationalism — Trump is repeating an anti-Semitic trope," she said in a statement. "If this is about Israel, then Trump is repeating a dual loyalty claim, which is a form of anti-Semitism. If this is about Jews being "loyal" to him, then Trump needs a reality check. We live in a democracy, and Jewish support for the Republican Party has been halved in the past four years."

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., made reference to Trump's remarks at a campaign rally in Sioux City, Iowa on Tuesday night.

"If you are Jewish, I gather, to be a loyal American, you gotta vote for Donald Trump and Republicans. Well, let me say this to the President. I am a proud Jewish person and I have no concerns about voting Democratic," he said. "And in fact I intend to vote for a Jewish man to become the next president of the United States."

It was not the first time that Trump suggested American Jews and Israeli politics must be in lockstep.

“I stood with your prime minister at the White House to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” he said in remarks at a Republican Jewish Coalition meeting on April 6th in Las Vegas.

According to 2016 exit polls, 71 percent of voters who identified as Jewish voted for Hillary Clinton while 23 percent voted for Trump.

In the 2018 midterms, per exit polls, 79 percent of Jewish voters reported voting for Democratic House candidates, while just 17 percent voted for Republicans.