Prominent Israel lobby groups in the US have issued muted criticism or support for President Donald Trump’s anti-Semitic claim that Jews who vote for the Democratic Party show “disloyalty.”
This fits a pattern where lobby groups go easy on anti-Semites who are also staunchly pro-Israel.
“I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat – I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Tuesday.
Watch his comments above.
Trump followed up on Wednesday with a series of tweets quoting a far-right talk radio host claiming that “President Trump is the greatest president for Jews and for Israel” and that “the Jewish people in Israel love him like he’s the King of Israel.”
David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, called the president’s Tuesday comments “shockingly divisive and unbecoming of the occupant of the highest elected office.”
Similarly, Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, tweeted that “It’s unclear who [the president] is claiming Jews would be ‘disloyal’ to, but charges of disloyalty have long been used to attack Jews.”
“As we’ve said before, it’s possible to engage in the democratic process without these claims,” Greenblatt added.
It’s unclear who @POTUS is claiming Jews would be “disloyal” to, but charges of disloyalty have long been used to attack Jews. As we’ve said before, it's possible to engage in the democratic process w/o these claims. It's long overdue to stop using Jews as a political football.
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) August 20, 2019
What is notably missing from both of these mild rebukes is any mention of anti-Semitism, a fact that did not escape numerous commenters, especially Jews whom these groups purport to defend.
Not even a year has passed since the Tree of Life massacre. The Poway synagogue shooting happened less than four months ago. Democratic process? Political football? This man is enabling the murder of your people and this is all you can come up with? It's inexcusable. https://t.co/yIkrjejVkZ
— Edo Konrad (@edokonrad) August 20, 2019
Compare and contrast. ADL head cannot bring himself to use the word anti-Semitism to condemn the most powerful leader in the world who has repeatedly wielded anti-Semitism. But when it comes to a Palestinian org (which has apologized for it), no problem. pic.twitter.com/tWAthfqJE2
— Mairav Zonszein מרב זונשיין (@MairavZ) August 20, 2019
Their gentle admonishments stand in marked contrast to the routine and forceful condemnations Israel lobby groups make of critics of Israel as “anti-Semites” merely for supporting Palestinian rights and international law.
J Street, a liberal Israel lobby group, also did not call the president’s words anti-Semitic.
But it did say his far-right agenda “continues to put the lives of American Jews and other vulnerable minority groups in danger.”
Trump is a vile white supremacist. But every organization, politician (including Dems), and talking head who decided it was a good idea to weaponize anti-semitism by conflating advocacy for Palestinian rights with hatred of Jewish people owns a tiny little piece of his comments.
— Josh Ruebner (@joshruebner) August 20, 2019
Silence and support
In sharp contrast, the powerful Israel lobby group AIPAC and the Zionist Organization of America had said nothing at all even by Wednesday morning.
AIPAC has made no comment about Trump's anti-Semitic remarks today.
— Mairav Zonszein מרב זונשיין (@MairavZ) August 21, 2019
The ZOA was on Tuesday and Wednesday advertising that its president Morton Klein was being interviewed by Sebastian Gorka.
Gorka, a former Trump adviser, is a member of Vitézi Rend, an ultra-nationalist anti-Semitic Hungarian organization that was controlled by the Nazis during World War II.
— ZOA National (@ZOA_National) August 20, 2019
.@ZOA_National still silent about Trump’s anti-Semitism, but is right now promoting the radio show of Sebastian Gorka, a member of Hungarian Nazi cult Vitezi Rend. ZOA’s @MortonAKlein7 embraces Jew-hating Nazis as long as they support Israel. pic.twitter.com/nIArvgEig7
— Ali Abunimah (@AliAbunimah) August 21, 2019
While many Israel lobby groups stayed quiet or offered mild rebukes, the Republican Jewish Coalition came out in full support of Trump’s attack on American Jews.
President Trump is right, it shows a great deal of disloyalty to oneself to defend a party that protects/emboldens people that hate you for your religion. The @GOP, when rarely confronted w/anti-Semitism of elected members always acts swiftly and decisively to punish and remove. https://t.co/mEBgd84qkf
— RJC (@RJC) August 20, 2019
“President Trump is right, it shows a great deal of disloyalty to oneself to defend a party that protects/emboldens people that hate you for your religion,” the group tweeted.
Contrast that with how the RJC has been busy smearing Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar as “anti-Semites” just because they speak in support of Palestinian rights:
It would be so much easier for Democrats if they just stood up to the anti-Semites in their party. https://t.co/KfoSLV1EL7
— RJC (@RJC) August 20, 2019
The president’s vitriol against American Jews is undoubtedly animated by the fact that nearly 80 percent of them voted against him as recently as the 2018 midterms.
Trump apparently holds the anti-Semitic belief that the primary motivator for American Jewish voters is or should be Israel and its interests.
That’s why the president reportedly thinks American Jews are ungrateful for such steps as his administration’s move of the US embassy to Jerusalem.
Earlier this year, Trump even told American Jews that Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu is “your prime minister.”
Treating all Jews as Israeli or as aligned with Israel is a classic example of anti-Semitism.
While troubling that groups that purport to fight hate actually enable the president’s incitement against Jews, it is not surprising.
The American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, among others, have long made defending and promoting Israel at any cost their number-one priority, with the safety of Jews and other communities in the United States a distant second.
The Jewish American right has, for the last three years, enabled and supported Donald Trump's anti-Semitism — not because it particularly loves Trump, but because he is the perfect vessel to realize the right's hyper-Zionist, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant vision.
— Edo Konrad (@edokonrad) August 20, 2019
Trump: Jews are loyal to another country, Bibi is their prime minister.
Am. Jewish establishment: We applaud the president's support for Israel.
Tlaib: I want to visit my grandmother in the West Bank without draconian conditions.
Am. Jewish establishment: This is Antisemitism.
— Joshua Leifer (@joshualeifer) August 20, 2019
Under its previous longtime director Abraham Foxman, for instance, the ADL was happy to defend anti-Semitic and Islamophobic Christian Zionist leaders just because they supported Israel.
The current ADL boss Jonathan Greenblatt has also celebrated Trump’s extremist pro-Israel policies:
Remember ADL and Greenblatt traveled to Jerusalem to take selfies next to Trump officials and celebrate Trump’s moving the American embassy over the objections of virtually the entire world. Unclear what that has to do with fighting hate! https://t.co/1zuGV8lEXI
— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) August 21, 2019
While keeping silent about Trump’s anti-Jewish bigotry, AIPAC’s priorities include pushing legislation through Congress that smears and criminalizes supporters of Palestinian rights as anti-Semites.
By contrast, many progressive Jews, generally more supportive of the Palestinian liberation movement, forthrightly condemned the president’s anti-Semitism.
The idea that Jews are disloyal and trying to undermine our country from the left has been the animating force behind the deadly, antisemitic violence we've seen under the Trump administration.
This rhetoric from the president is going to get Jews killed. It already has. https://t.co/nWSAD6ZUtU
— IfNotNow🔥 (@IfNotNowOrg) August 20, 2019
Trump’s latest attack on Jews and the muted Israel lobby response is another manifestation of the white supremacist-Zionist alliance in the White House.
This alliance has lethal consequences, including for Jews.
In April, Israel lobby groups shielded white supremacists from blame after one such extremist attacked a Jewish center in Poway, California, killing one person and injuring three others, including the rabbi.
That attack came exactly six months after a neo-Nazi shouting “All Jews must die” gunned down 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
And earlier this month, a white supremacist echoing Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric fatally shot 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, which the gunman deliberately chose in order to target Latinos.
'On Tuesday, the F.B.I. said it had arrested a Nazi sympathizer who had threatened to butcher a Hispanic woman and had boasted that Mr. Trump would wipe out nonwhites in a “racial war and crusade.”' https://t.co/I0nR6u2LjH
— Jared Malsin (@jmalsin) August 21, 2019
On Tuesday, according to The New York Times, “the FBI said it had arrested a Nazi sympathizer who had threatened to butcher a Hispanic woman and had boasted that Mr. Trump would wipe out nonwhites in a ‘racial war and crusade.’”
The Israel lobby groups that enable Trump’s anti-Semitism and racism because they think it serves Israel, or which even defend his bigotry, cannot escape complicity in its consequences.