President Trump on Friday repeated his claims that Democrats are “anti-Israel” and “anti-Jewish” ahead of meetings scheduled at the White House next week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The Democrats have very much proven to be anti-Israel,” Trump told reporters as he departed the White House en route to Florida. “There’s no question about that. And it’s a disgrace. I mean, I don’t know what’s happened to them, but they are totally anti-Israel. Frankly, I think they’re anti-Jewish.”
Trump made similar claims two weeks ago following a House vote on a resolution broadly condemning hatred rather than specifically condemning past alleged anti-Semitic comments by a freshman Muslim congresswoman.
His latest remarks drew a swift rebuke from the Jewish Democratic Council of America. In a tweet, the group asked Trump to “stop lying about Democrats and Israel,” adding: “Jews should not be treated as political pawns.”
The president made his comments ahead of meetings planned with Netanyahu on Monday and Tuesday at the White House. During his trip to Washington, the Israeli leader is also scheduled to address a policy conference hosted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful pro-Israel group.
Trump’s “anti-Jewish” statement was made in response to a reporter who noted that several Democratic presidential candidates have decided not to attend the conference and that Trump is not making an appearance there either.
Both Democrats and Republicans have sought in recent weeks to cast themselves as defenders of Israel amid heated congressional discussions about anti-Semitism. Historically, Jews have voted for Democrats in far greater numbers than for Republicans.
During his tenure, Trump has taken several actions applauded by Israeli leaders, including an announcement Thursday that he was abruptly reversing decades of U.S. policy by endorsing permanent Israeli control of the disputed Golan Heights, an area seized from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.
The announcement was a political boon to Netanyahu three weeks before he faces an unexpectedly difficult reelection vote at home amid corruption allegations.
The resolution that Trump cited two weeks ago condemned anti-Semitism and discrimination against Muslims in equal measure.
It also referred to a gathering in Charlottesville in 2017 organized by white nationalists and neo-Nazis that turned deadly. Trump drew widespread condemnation afterward for suggesting there were “some very fine people on both sides,” referring to the organizers and protesters.
In recent weeks, Trump has sought to promote a group called “Jexodus” that seeks to lure Jewish Democrats to the Republican Party.
Polling data and experts interviewed by The Washington Post suggest little movement in that direction. Rather, they show a demographic group that continues to vote at exceedingly high rates for Democrats. That number ticked up in the 2016 election, with 71 percent voting for Hillary Clinton and only 24 percent voting for Trump, according to exit polling.
Anne Gearan and Eli Rosenberg contributed to this report.