'This Isn't Political. Please Stop': Lawmakers, Jewish Groups Scold Trump for Calling Dems 'anti-Jewish'

U.S. president was 'lucky he escaped being named' in resolution denouncing anti-Semitism and hate, Jewish congressman says

File photo: President Donald Trump signs a Bible as he greets people at Providence Baptist Church in Smiths Station, Alabama, March 8, 2019.
Carolyn Kaster/AP

WASHINGTON — Democratic lawmakers and U.S. Jewish groups have invoked President Donald Trump's past statements on Jews and anti-Semitism to rebuke his comment Friday that the Democratic Party is now "anti-Jewish."

Trump, who spoke a day after the House vote on a resolution that broadly condemned bigotry rather than specifically condemning anti-Semitism, was called out for arguing that some of the violent neo-Nazis in the 2017 white supremacist Charlottesville rally, which ended with the death of a protester, were "very fine people."

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“I thought yesterday’s vote by the House was disgraceful,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House Friday. “I thought that vote was a disgrace, and so does everybody else if you get an honest answer.”

He added the incident showed that “the Democrats have become an anti-Israel party. They’ve become an anti-Jewish party, and that’s too bad.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Jewish-American lawmaker from Maryland, said "the president should really be careful about entering into this whole terrain." He added that Trump was "lucky that he escaped being named" in the congressional resolution denouncing anti-Semitism and other forms of hate. Raskin called Trump’s accusation against the Democrats "absurd" during an interview with CNN.

Florida Rep. Ted Deutch, one of the Democrats who criticized the resolution and said he would have preferred one specifically denouncing anti-Semitism, also attacked Trump for his partisan remarks.

"I condemn the use of anti-Semitism by my colleagues, Democrat and Republican, AND by your campaign," Deutch tweeted. "This isn’t political. It’s life and death. Please stop."

Halie Sofer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said: "We are appalled, but not surprised, that President Trump has once again demonstrated dishonesty, hypocrisy, and willingness to use anti-Semitism and Israel as a political football." 

Referring to recent controversial comments by Rep. Ilhan Omar, accused by critics of using anti-Semitic language, Sofer added that "the president’s own words have fueled the fire of intolerance and targeting of Jews, and Republicans have failed to condemn the president’s remarks in the same way that Democrats were quick to rebuke Representative Omar."

The American Jewish Committee wrote on Twitter that “while dissenters in both parties exist, there is overwhelming consensus on the U.S.-Israel relationship and the fight against anti-Semitism. The last thing needed is to turn these issues into partisan wedges."

J Street released a video criticizing Congress Republicans for cynically using anti-Semitism to hinder a vote on the ongoing civil war in Yemen. The video explained how Republicans in the House of Representatives added language about anti-Semitism to a resolution on that civil war, and then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConell used that as a technical excuse not to hold a vote on the resolution in the Senate.

Tablet journalist Yair Rosenberg tweeted: "This is your periodic reminder that Donald Trump is a bigoted hypocrite who only condemns prejudice when it's useful to him, and happily deploys it himself for the same reason. He is not a credible authority on racism, anti-Semitism or anything close, unless as a cautionary tale."