Progressive Jewish groups are accusing US president Donald Trump of using anti-semitic smears when he made an appearance in an Israeli American Council conference.
Trump was trying to appeal to Jewish voters and in his remarks, the president made certain comments that were interpreted as anti-semitic. He said during the conference that his audience, mostly Jewish, was motivated by money. He argued that because of that, most would easily vote for him even if they didn’t like him as a person.
Trump even blatantly attacked some American Jews for being “insufficiently loyal” to Israel. However, these comments didn’t go down well in the Jewish community. In a statement released shortly after the conference, Halie Soifer, the Director of the Jewish Democratic Council, denounced the president’s remarks. Soifer called Trump’s remarks “vile and bigoted, adding that the President used anti-semitic stereotypes.” Soifer also took offense on Trump’s suggestion that some Jews were insufficiently loyal to Israel.
During his speech, Trump addressed his comments to Jews in the real estate industry. The president started by saying that he knew “most Jews are in the real estate industry” adding that by virtue of being players in the sector, they had no choice but to vote for him. Trump also used the speech to renew his attacks on Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren.
The president relentlessly pushed a false claim that Warren was trying to create a 100% wealth tax if elected into office. "You won’t vote for that tax,'' the president remarked, adding that the proposal would “take away all your wealth.” The conference was held in Hollywood, Florida.
The president was quick to note that he was aware that Jews, in general, didn’t like him. However, he remained confident of getting strong support from the community regardless. Trump said, “Some of you don’t like me at all, but you are going to be my biggest supporters.” He also urged Jewish Americans to love Israel more claiming that there were so many people of Jewish descent in the US who according to him “don't love Israel enough.”
These remarks were also condemned by J Street, another progressive Jewish group. The group noted in a statement that the President was “not able to address Jewish people without anti-semitic tropes.” However, Trump’s speech during the conference was applauded by conservative Jewish groups. The groups dismissed the characterization of his remarks as anti-semitic. It’s not the first time the president has been accused of using anti-semitic remarks.
Trump also came under fire in 2016 while still a candidate for sending an anti-semitic tweet. The tweet featured Hillary Clinton, his opponent in the 2016 race, with a Star of David symbol and a pile of cash. The image was largely condemned. The president is polling relatively low among Jewish voters compared to other candidates in the 2020 race and he’s looking to bridge the gap over the coming months.