Congressman Steve King: How Can Jews 'Be Democrats First and Jewish Second'?

'Rep. King is essentially stating that we aren’t Jewish enough for him. How dare he,' Greg Rosenbaum, chair of the NJDC Board of Directors responds.

Wikimedia Commons / Gage Skidmore

Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) said he couldn't understand how “Jews in America can be Democrats first and Jewish second” and support the way President Barack Obama is dealing with Israel, in an interview with Boston Herald Radio Friday.

“There were some 50 or so Democrats that decided they would boycott [Netanyahu’s] speech ... I don’t understand how Jews in America can be Democrats first and Jewish second and support Israel along the line of just following their president,” King told Boston Herald Radio’s “Boston Herald Drive” program.

"It says this, they're knee-jerk supporters of the president's policy," the congressman added.

When asked on the show if anti-Semitism was a factor – it's not clear whether the host was referring to Obama's policies – King said yes, alongside "plain liberalism," according to CNN.

Jewish groups condemned King's comments.

“I was shocked and horrified when I heard the remarks made by Rep. King today stating that we are ‘Jewish second,’ and implying that Democrats are anti-Semitic," Greg Rosenbaum, chair of the National Jewish Democratic Council Board of Directors said in a statement. "For anyone, let alone an elected official, to actively belittle the hundreds of thousands of American Jews who vote for Democratic candidates is beyond the pale."

"Rep. King is essentially stating that we aren’t Jewish enough for him. How dare he. We demand and deserve an apology at once,” the statement read.

David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, a Jewish advocacy group, told CNN that the remarks are "painfully wrongheaded and hurtful."

"It's a painfully wrongheaded understanding of American Jews and this kind of collective description should have no place in American political discourse," he said. "American Jews, like other faith and ethnic groups, are a very diverse community in their thinking, in their policies and in their voting behavior."

Harris further stated it was wrong to equate criticism of Netanyahu to being anti-Israel, noting there's no "single Jewish outlook or point of view."