President Trump accused of anti-Semitism, says Jews ‘have no choice’ but to vote for him

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara with President Donald and Melania Trump at the Ben Gurion airport in Israel.
Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara with President Donald and Melania Trump at the Ben Gurion airport in Israel. | Photo: State of Israel

President Donald Trump has come under fire from Jewish Americans and other critics who accused him of using “anti-Semitic tropes” to portray Jews as wealth obsessed people who will have no choice but to vote for him in 2020.

Trump’s offensive comments came in a speech to the Israeli American Council Saturday. He was discussing how he was able to establish the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem for less than $500,000 after being initially told they would need a budget of $2 billion during his approximately 45-minute speech, delivered in Hollywood, Florida.

“So we’re going to spend two billion, and one of them was going to buy a lousy location. A lot of you are in the real estate business because I know you very well. You’re brutal killers,” he told his Jewish audience to laughter.

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“Not nice people at all. But you have to vote for me; you have no choice. You’re not going to vote for Pocahontas, I can tell you that,” Trump said referencing Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren who plans to increase taxes on the ultra-wealthy if she is elected.

She proposed a wealth tax of 2% on wealth between $50 million and $1 billion, and a 3% tax on wealth above $1 billion. On November 1, 2019, she also proposed an additional 3% surtax on wealth over $1 billion.

“You’re not going to vote for the wealth tax. ‘Yeah, let’s take 100 percent of your wealth away.’ No, no. Even if you don’t like me; some of you don’t. Some of you I don’t like at all, actually,” he continued to laughter. “And you’re going to be my biggest supporters because you’ll be out of business in about 15 minutes, if they get it. So I don’t have to spend a lot of time on that.”

The president also suggested during his speech that there are some American Jews who don’t “love Israel enough.”

“We have to get the people of our country, of this country, to love Israel more. I have to tell you that. We have to do it,” he said. "We have to get them to love Israel more.  Because you have people that are Jewish people, that are great people — they don’t love Israel enough. You know that. You know that. “

As this clip from his speech made the rounds on social media, liberal pro-Israel advocacy organization J Street was among several to speak out.

“The President of the United States is incapable of addressing Jewish audiences without dipping into the deep well of anti-Semitic tropes that shape his worldview,” the organization tweeted Sunday morning. “We’re not going to hold our breath waiting for Trump's supporters to speak out. We are going to work tirelessly to defeat this president and those who’ve enabled him 11 months from now.”

In a statement on Sunday as well, Jewish Democratic Council of America Executive Director Halie Soifer condemned the president’s remarks and called him “the biggest threat to American Jews.”

“The president’s deeply offensive remarks before the Israeli American Council, including his unconscionable repeating of negative stereotypes that have been used historically to target Jews, only reinforce our belief – and warning in our latest ad – that Donald Trump is the biggest threat to American Jews,” he warned.

“We strongly denounce these vile and bigoted remarks in which the president – once again – used anti-Semitic stereotypes to characterize Jews as driven by money and insufficiently loyal to Israel. He even had the audacity to suggest that Jews ‘have no choice’ but to support him,” she continued.

“American Jews do have a choice, and they’re not choosing President Trump or the Republican Party, which has been complicit in enacting his hateful agenda. In fact, Jewish support for the GOP has been halved since Trump has been in office, from 33 percent in 2014 to 17 percent in 2018, because Trump’s policies and rhetoric are completely antithetical to Jewish values,” she added.

Paul Krugman, Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center who won the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on international trade and economic geography also argued in an op-ed for The New York Times that Trump “is empirically dead wrong” about Jews.

“Well, it’s not news that Trump’s bigotry isn’t restricted to blacks and immigrants. What is interesting, however, is that this particular anti-Semitic cliché — that Jews are greedy, and that their political behavior is especially driven by their financial interests — is empirically dead wrong. In fact, American Jews are much more liberal than you might expect given their economic situation,” Krugman wrote.

He then highlighted research showing that high-income Americans are more likely to support the Republican Party and it is especially true among the richest group.

“Given these realities, you might expect American Jews, who are in fact considerably more affluent than the average, to lean right. But they don’t. In fact, only 17 percent of them voted Republican last year,” he wrote.

“In other words, American Jews aren’t the uniquely greedy, self-interested characters anti-Semites imagine them to be,” he added.

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