.S. President Donald Trump reacts while talking to reporters as he departs to visit storm-hit areas of Alabama from the White House in Washington, U.S., March 8, 2019..
(photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)
LONDON – US President Donald Trump characterized the Democratic Party on Friday as “anti-Jewish” and “anti-Israel” in light of a firestorm of controversy over recent remarks from a member of its House caucus.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said it was a “disgrace” that Democrats passed a resolution in the House this week condemning all forms of hatred – and not singularly antisemitism – after Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota questioned the loyalties and patriotism of Israel advocates.
“Democrats have become an anti-Israel party,” Trump said. “They have become an anti-Jewish party, and that’s too bad.”
The party emerged from a bruising week in which Democratic leadership pushed for a resolution condemning dual loyalty charges as expressly antisemitic. While that language was ultimately approved by the full House, it was amended to include condemnations of Islamophobia, white supremacy and other forms of hate.
Democratic leadership – including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who himself is Jewish – balked at the president’s comments.
“For the president, who when neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville in front of a synagogue and said ‘Burn it down’ and he said ‘both sides’ are to blame, this is a new divisive low,” Schumer wrote in a Facebook post.
“His comments show the president is only interested in playing the politics of division and not in fighting antisemitism,” Schumer added. “Mr. President, you have redefined chutzpah.”
Other Jewish Democrats that were last week leading the charge to condemn their party colleague, including Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida, said it was incumbent upon them to also condemn antisemitism in Trump’s ranks.
“I condemn the use of antisemitism by my colleagues, Democrat and Republican, AND by your campaign,” Deutch tweeted at the president. “This isn’t political. It’s life and death. Please stop.”
Democratic House leaders hope to move on to the scandal around Omar, who in three months has prompted three major waves of condemnation for her comments on Israel.
The episode is Nancy Pelosi’s first major test since resuming the House speakership in January. Several Democratic presidential contenders, including Senators Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, issued cautionary statements wary of Pelosi’s resolution process and critical of efforts to “stifle” legitimate debate over Israel policy.
Since taking office, Omar has questioned whether support for Israel in Congress is “all about the Benjamins” and has compared Israel advocacy organizations to the pharmaceutical, fossil fuel and gun lobbies.
She supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement targeting Israel, and says she “chuckles” at the notion it can exist as both a Jewish and democratic state.
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