Showing a fresh willingness to play politics along religious and racial lines, President Donald Trump said Tuesday that American Jewish people who vote for Democrats show "either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty." Trump's claim triggered a quick uproar from critics who said the president was trading in anti-Semitic stereotypes, the AP reports. It came amid his ongoing feud with Democratic congresswomen Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, both Muslim. Trump has closely aligned himself with Israel, including its conservative prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while the Muslim lawmakers have been outspoken critics of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. Tlaib is a US-born Palestinian American, while Omar was born in Somalia.
"Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they are defending these two people over the state of Israel?" Trump told reporters. "I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty." Trump's comments were denounced swiftly by Jewish American organizations. "This is yet another example of Donald Trump continuing to weaponize and politicize anti-Semitism," said Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America. "At a time when anti-Semitic incidents have increased—due to the president's emboldening of white nationalism—Trump is repeating an anti-Semitic trope." The Republican Jewish Coalition defended Trump, arguing that the president was speaking about people being disloyal to themselves rather than to Israel. (See what Trump said after Tlaib got emotional.)