Tony Katz Today
Trump Is Not Omar On Israel Loyalty, But The Trope Can Never Be Accepted
Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla, Adam Bettcher, NurPhoto / Getty Images
What President Donald Trump said about Jews and "disloyalty" is wrong. If it is wrong when Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) says it, then it is wrong when Donald Trump says it. But that does not make Trump and Omar the same; to say so would be equally wrong.
President Trump, addressing the press conference of Rep. Omar and Rep. Rashida Talib (D-MI) spoke about what he sees as clear antisemitism:
Omar is a disaster for Jewish people. I can’t imagine if she has any Jewish people in her district that they can possibly vote for her.
Of course they are a disaster. I have said it before I will say it again— Congresswomen Talib and Omar are antisemites. On Ilhan Omar, it's not only her comments about dual loyalty that prove this, but the entire litany of anti-Semitic statements she has made: Especially and most recently her (and Tlaib's) support for groups that promote terrorism in Israel. The proof of Omar and Tlaib's antisemitism and Israel hate is their words and associations.
If you are Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY,) and you are proudly having conversations with Jeremy Corbyn, the virulently anti-Semitic leader of the Labor Party in the UK, you have yourself an issue with antisemitism. And in failing to address it, the entire Democratic party has an issue as I noted here.
Jews who vote for the Democratic Party need a reckoning. They are voting for people who will not call out the antisemitism and bigotry in their own ranks, even when party members push to delegitimize (and erase!) Israel's existence. BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanction) isn’t just about Israel, it's about Jews. How can Jews (or anyone!) vote for people who support that?
President Trump, talking about Omar, Tlaib and Israel, continued:
Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they are defending these two people over the state of Israel. I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat— I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.
Yes, too many Jews historically vote for Democrats. I have always wondered whether this is simply rote; it'ss what their grandmother did, it's what their family does and has always done. Add in a deluge of "Trump is evil" media , and what option do they feel they have? Thus, they forgive anything and everything, and they vote against their own best interests.
But the President brought up "disloyalty." And this, simply, is unacceptable. Because the question then follows: Disloyalty to whom? The loyalty conversation is the idea that if you are Jewish you can’t be loyal just to the United States; you are also (must be!) loyal to Israel - a dual loyalty. This conversation keeps coming up, it is an ugly conversation and President Trump should not add to it. Jeffery Dunetz of The Lid Blog wrote that Trump wasn’t talking about disloyalty to America, he was talking about disloyalty to the Jewish people and that President Trump's comments are 100% correct.
Maybe he's right. Maybe Trump meant disloyalty to the Jewish people. But it doesn't excuse it. He shouldn't be saying it, and he should not be surprised at the hits that comes his way. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) was excoriated for going down the dual-loyalty road last week. He apologized, and rightfully so.
When asked about his comments before boarding Marine One the next day, President Trump stated:
In my opinion, the Democrats have gone very far away from Israel...They want to take away foreign aid from Israel. In my opinion, you vote for a Democrat, you're being very disloyal to Jewish people and being very disloyal to Israel...I think if you vote for a Democrat, you're very disloyal to Israel and the Jewish people.
If you look at what Tlaib and Omar say, they are so bad for Israel. They want all of the aid cut from Israel. The Democrats have to own it. Anyone who votes for Democrats, they're voting for that. And that's very bad for Israel.
Note the change. It's not Jewish people who vote for Democrats, it's if "you" vote for a Democrat then you are disloyal. It's word play, and it may very well mollify his base and many Jews. He may get people to agree with him. However it plays, President Trump
would do well to must avoid that language in the future. He should not give the real antisemites and the virtue-signaling media any reason or room to attack him.
But the difference between Donald Trump and Ilhan Omar also can not be overlooked: Omar doesn’t believe in the existence of Israel, and Trump ain’t that guy. He believes in it, he supports it and he should be loudly applauded for his actions. And he should continue to speak honestly about Rep. Tlaib, Rep. Omar, the Democratic Party's acceptance of bigotry, and their clear fear of speaking out against it.