Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) offered a retort Tuesday night to President Trump’s contention that Jewish people who vote for Democrats are showing “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty” — by pointing to himself.
“And in fact, I intend to vote for a Jewish man to become the next president of the United States,” Sanders added, presumably referring to himself.
Sanders’s remarks came hours after Trump made comments to reporters in the Oval Office regarding Israel’s decision to scuttle a planned trip this week by Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).
“Where has the Democratic Party gone?” Trump asked ahead of a meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. “Where have they gone, where they’re defending these two people over the state of Israel? And I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”
Scores of Democrats voiced support for Omar and Tlaib last week after Israel announced it would bar the two lawmakers from entering the country. They have long been fierce critics of the Israeli government and its treatment of Palestinians.
Israel later relented on humanitarian grounds in response to a request from Tlaib to see her 90-year-old grandmother, who lives in the occupied West Bank. Tlaib announced later that day that she would not make the trip after all because of the conditions Israel was seeking to impose on her.
Trump’s comments Tuesday in the Oval Office prompted an outcry from critics who said the president’s remarks were promoting anti-Semitic stereotypes. Jewish organizations immediately pointed out that Trump’s use of the word “disloyalty” echoed anti-Semitic tropes accusing Jews of dual allegiance.
“American Jews — like all Americans — have a range of political views and policy priorities,” David Harris, CEO of the nonpartisan American Jewish Committee, said in a statement. “His assessment of their knowledge or ‘loyalty,’ based on their party preference, is inappropriate, unwelcome, and downright dangerous.”
Other Democratic presidential hopefuls also weighed in.
Former congressman Beto O’Rourke (Tex.) shared a video of Trump’s comment and declared, “The Jewish people don’t need to prove their loyalty to you, @realDonaldTrump — or to anyone else.”
On Wednesday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio contended that Trump was “loyal to white supremacy.”
“He believes if you’re not loyal to him and his “values,” you’re not loyal to the country,” de Blasio said in a tweet. “Make no mistake: there is a DEEPLY anti-Semitic precedent for that type of thinking and it led to the death of SIX MILLION Jews.”