WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday that "any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat – I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty."
Trump did not specify to whom these Jews were being supposedly disloyal - to the United States, to Israel or to him as president.
Discussing U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, whose planned visit to Israel and the West Bank was cancelled over their support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, Trump said: "Where is the Democratic party gone? Where have they gone over defending these two people over the State of Israel?"
Speaking in the Oval Office during a meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Trump commented on Omar's Monday statement calling on the United States to use aid money to pressure the Israeli government to ensure "full rights to Palestinians." He said that "Five years ago, the concept of even talking about this ... even three years ago, of cutting off aid to Israel because of two people who hate Israel and hate Jewish people... I can't believe we're having this conversation."
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Most U.S. Jews vote for the Democratic Party, and Democrats won close to 80 percent of the Jewish vote in the 2018 midterms. In addition, there are more than 30 Jewish members of Congress who are Democrats, but only two Jewish Republicans.
A Gallup poll published in March shows Trump's standing among U.S. Jews was the lowest among several religious groups examined.
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According to the poll, based on interviews with 978 Jewish American, only 26 percent of them approve of Trump's conduct as president, while only 16 percent define themselves as Republicans. Meanwhile, 71 percent of the Jewish respondents said they disapprove of Trump, with slightly over half of them identifying as Democrats.
Following a press conference Omar and Tlaib held on Monday, Trump, who has repeatedly attacked the two congresswomen on Twitter, wrote, "Sorry, I don’t buy Rep. Tlaib’s tears. I have watched her violence, craziness and, most importantly, WORDS, for far too long. Now tears? She hates Israel and all Jewish people. She is an anti-Semite. She and her 3 friends are the new face of the Democrat Party. Live with it!"
Omar and Tlaib appeared at the news conference with Jewish leaders from their districts and called on all members of Congress to visit Israel and the West Bank.
Tlaib said that "all Americans should be disturbed" by the decision not to let them enter.
The Michigan lawmaker teared up as she recalled visiting family in the West Bank and seeing her mother have to "go through dehumanizing checkpoints – even though she was a United States citizen and a proud American."
Tlaib got emotional as she told how her "Sitty" — an Arabic term of endearment for one's grandmother that's spelled different ways in English — urged her during a tearful late-night family phone call not to come under what they considered such humiliating circumstances.
"She said I'm her dream manifested. I'm her free bird," Tlaib recalled. "So why would I come back and be caged and bow down when my election rose her head up high, gave her dignity for the first time?"
At the urging of President Donald Trump, Israel denied entry to the two Muslim representatives over their support for the Palestinian-led boycott movement. The two are outspoken critics of Trump and of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
They were subjected to a series of racist tweets from Trump last month, in which he told them to “go back” to their “broken” countries. Both are U.S. citizens.