NEW YORK — Jewish groups on Monday condemned tweets by President Donald Trump that called on freshmen Democratic congresswomen to “go back” to where they came from.
The Anti-Defamation League said the president’s tweets were racist and condemned his claim that the congresswomen hate Israel.
Trump’s remarks on Sunday and Monday referred to Representatives Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley.
In his tweets, Trump said the congresswomen — all of whom are women of color — “originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world.” He added they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” despite the fact that only one of them, Omar, was born outside of the United States.
He later doubled down and wrote: “So sad to see the Democrats sticking up for people who speak so badly of our Country and who, in addition, hate Israel with a true and unbridled passion.”
“As Jews, we are all too familiar with this kind of divisive prejudice,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “While ADL has publicly disagreed with these congresswomen on some issues, the president is echoing the racist talking points of white nationalists and cynically using the Jewish people and the State of Israel as a shield to double down on his remarks.”
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Greenblatt added that “politicizing the widespread, bipartisan support for Israel and throwing around accusations of anti-Semitism is damaging to the security of Israel and the Jewish community.” He called on Trump to “lead by example” and “stop smearing members of Congress.”
The ADL said it was alarmed by the fact that known white supremacists such as Andrew Anglin, Richard Spencer and Augustus Invictus seemed to praise and be “thrilled” by Trump’s tweets.
Jewish Democratic Council of America Executive Director Halie Soifer said Trump’s comments represented “a transparent attempt to use Israel as a diversion, which we strongly reject.
“Trump has exposed himself as America’s ‘Racist in Chief,’ and Republicans' silence is complicity with his hateful agenda,” Soifer said in a statement.
On her Twitter page, she replied to Trump, writing that “this isn’t about Israel.
“The issue every American is talking about today is the racism, hatred, and bigotry you espouse, which is never justified, even if you disagree with others’ policy views,” she added.
The American Jewish Committee also expressed its opposition to the president’s remarks.
“Our nation was built by people who hailed from every corner of the globe and we are enriched by our diversity to this day,” the group tweeted. “Surely we can have policy debates in this country without resorting to potshots at our opponents’ identities or origins.”
Rabbi Jill Jacobs from T’ruah, The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, also called on Trump to stop trying to “cover up [his] racism by making Israel a wedge.”
“If you want to talk about hurting Israel, let’s talk about your unilateral moves to hamper peace,” she said.
The organization J Street said it was “appalled” by what it called the “ongoing torrent of racist incitement that President Trump continues to direct against progressive women of color in Congress.”
The recent tweets, the group said, show Trump has “sunk to a disgraceful new low of extremism and shown contempt for the very essence of democracy and equality in the United States.”