Trump doubles down on Jewish controversy

President Trump doubled down Wednesday on his assertion that Democratic voters are being “disloyal” to Jewish people and Israel. 

“In my opinion, if you vote for a Democrat you’re being very disloyal to Jewish people and you’re being very disloyal to Israel. And only weak people would say anything other than that,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a speech in Kentucky.

“The Democrats have gone very far away from Israel,” he added. Trump on Tuesday said Jews who vote for Democrats either “lack knowledge” or show “great disloyalty.” The comment came as he railed against Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who have been critical of the U.S.-Israel alliance. The president questioned how the Democratic Party could defend them and their views on Israel. Jewish groups and Democratic lawmakers swiftly condemned Trump’s remarks as anti-Semitic for questioning the loyalty of Jewish people in the United States. Multiple exit polls after the 2016 election showed that more than 70 percent of Jewish voters voted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. It wasn’t clear from Trump’s original remarks to whom he believed Jewish Democratic voters were being loyal. Charging Jewish people with disloyalty to the United States or having dual loyalty to Israel is an anti-Semitic trope. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, tweeted Wednesday that Trump was “referring to disloyalty to Israel.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump quoted a right-wing conspiracy theorist who said on a Newsmax show that Israeli Jews view the president like the “second coming of God” and that American Jews who don’t support him “don’t even know what they’re doing.” The president has made support for Israel, including moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing the country’s claim over the Golan Heights, a centerpiece of his foreign policy. But his rhetoric chastising Jewish people over their political leanings is likely to inflame those groups and energize his opponents. “I have been responsible for a lot of great things for Israel,” Trump said as he left the White House.

[The Hill]

Trump: Jews that vote Democrat show ‘lack of knowledge or great disloyalty’

President Trump said Tuesday that Jewish people who vote for Democrats are either ignorant or disloyal as he railed against two congresswomen who have been critical of the U.S.-Israel alliance.

“I think Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” Trump told reporters during an Oval Office meeting with the president of Romania.

Trump and the GOP have sought to win over Jewish voters from the Democratic Party by criticizing statements by Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Both have criticized Israel’s government.

Trump last week urged Israel to block Tlaib and Omar from visiting the country, saying in a tweet that allowing the visit would show “great weakness.” An hour after Trump’s tweet, Israel denied the congresswomen entry. 

But in stating that Jewish people who voted for Democrats were disloyal, Trump appeared to step into the same verbal quagmire about Jewish loyalty to the Israeli state that had drawn criticism to Omar earlier this year. 

Omar took heat for remarks that suggested to some that Jewish Americans were more loyal to Israel than the United States.  

Trump’s comments came as he accused Tlaib and Omar of hating Israel and the Jewish people, and he complained that Democrats should also be criticizing them.

“The concept of even talking about this … of cutting off aid to Israel because of two people that hate Israel and hate Jewish people, I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation,” Trump said in the Oval Office.

“Where has the Democratic Party gone?” he continued. “Where have they gone … where they’re defending these two people over the state of Israel?”

Liberal Jewish groups swiftly condemned the president’s Tuesday remarks. 

“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. If this is about Israel, then Trump is repeating a dual loyalty claim, which is a form of anti-Semitism. If this is about Jews being ‘loyal’ to him, then Trump needs a reality check,” said Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America.

Trump has made unwavering support of Israel one of the pillars of his foreign policy, including moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and officially recognizing Israel’s claim over the disputed Golan Heights territory. 

Tlaib and Omar have supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement targeting Israel over its treatment of Palestinians, and have been accused of using anti-Semitic tropes.

Omar drew criticism when she suggested lawmakers support Israel because of money from lobbyists and was rebuked again when she claimed those who back the country harbor “dual loyalty.”

Tlaib, who is Palestinian American, drew backlash from conservatives earlier this year for comments about the Holocaust when she said it gave her a “calming feeling” to think of persecuted Jews finding safe haven in Israel.

The two congresswomen held a joint press conference on Monday denouncing Israel’s decision to bar their entry. Tlaib teared up as she recounted her family’s experiences as Palestinians in the Middle East, while Omar suggested that Congress reconsider the annual U.S. aid allocated to Israel after the international incident.

Trump said Tuesday that he was not involved in the decision to bar Tlaib and Omar entry, but that he supported Israel’s decision and that it would have been “very bad” to have let the congresswomen in. He went on to chastise Tlaib for getting emotional a day earlier, saying he’d seen her be “vicious” while protesting one of his campaign events in 2016.

Trump has hammered Tlaib and Omar with criticism in recent months, seeking to portray them as extreme and cast them as the face of the Democratic Party.

But Trump has stoked accusations of anti-Semitism with his own rhetoric as well.

The president angered Jewish groups and others in 2017 when he said there were “very fine people on both sides” of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., where marchers carried Nazi banners and chanted anti-Semitic slogans.

Jewish groups called on Trump to more forcefully condemn white nationalism last year after a gunman opened fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing 11 people.

In 2016, Trump tweeted an image of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton with the phrase “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever” inside a Star of David on top of piles of cash. 

Multiple exit polls from the 2016 presidential election showed that more than 70 percent of Jewish Americans voted for Clinton.

[The Hill]

Trump Attacks Congresswomen in Unhinged Presser: ‘They Hate Our Country’ With a Passion, ‘They Hate Jews’

In his first public comments since he leveled attacks on Democratic congresswomen that many saw as racist, President Donald Trump defended his tweets in a press conference on the south lawn of the White House.

Trump took questions in a contentious back-and-forth from the press and continued to hit Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for “hating Israel” and three other freshman congresswomen, namely Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Rep. Rashida Tlaiband Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the last of which he blamed for Amazon not building a East Coast headquarters in Queens, New York.

“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” Trump wrote of the congresswomen in a Twitter thread Sunday morning.

“They are very unhappy,” Trump told reporters on Monday. “I’m watching them, all they do is complain. All I’m saying, if they want to leave, they can leave.”

He then turned his focus of derision on Rep. Omar, referring to her as “somebody that comes from Somalia.” He continued that Omar is “never happy, says horrible things about Israel, hates Israel, hates Jews.”

“I look at the one, I look at Omar,” Trump said. “I don’t know, I never met her. I hear the way she talks about Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda has killed many Americans.”

He finished, “They can leave, and you know what? I’m sure there will be many people that want to miss them.”

Trump spoke at length, ultimately claiming that these four congresswomen, “hate our country … with a passion” before oddly lamenting how the “Democrat party” would be making a big political mistake by getting behind these four individuals.

[Mediaite]

Reality

Trump lied about Omar’s Al Qaeda comments.

Doctors Could Refuse to Treat People Based on Race and Age Under Trump’s New Rule

A new Trump administration proposal would change the civil rights rules dictating whether providers must care for patients who are transgender or have had an abortion. News stories have mainly focused on how the proposal might affect LGBTQ rights and abortion rights, but the sweeping proposal has implications for all Americans, because the Department of Health and Human Services seeks to change how far civil rights protections extend and how those protections are enforced.

Roger Severino, the director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, has been candid about his intentions to overturn an Obama-era rule that prohibited discrimination based on gender identity and termination of a pregnancy. In 2016, while at the conservative Heritage Foundation, he co-authored a paper arguing the restrictions threaten the independence of physicians to follow their religious or moral beliefs. Supporters of the approach say it protects the freedom of conscience, but opponents say it encourages discrimination.

His office unveiled the proposed rule on May 24, when many people were focused on the start of the long Memorial Day holiday weekend.

The rule is the latest Trump administration proposal to strip protections for transgender Americans, coming the same week another directive was proposed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development that would allow homeless shelters to turn away people based on their gender identity.

The public was given 60 days to comment on the HHS proposal. Here’s a rundown of what you need to know about it.

What would this proposal do?

Fundamentally, the proposed rule would overturn a previous rule that forbids health care providers who receive federal funding from discriminating against patients on the basis of their gender identity or whether they have terminated a pregnancy.

The Trump administration proposal would eliminate those protections, enabling providers to deny these groups care or insurance coverage without having to pay a fine or suffer other federal consequences.

That may mean refusing a transgender patient mental health care or gender-confirming surgery. But it may also mean denying patients care that has nothing to do with gender identity, such as a regular office visit for a bad cold or ongoing treatment for chronic conditions like diabetes.

“What it does, from a very practical point of view, is that it empowers bad actors to be bad actors,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told reporters.

The proposal would also eliminate protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity from several other health care regulations, like non-discrimination guidelines for the health care insurance marketplaces.

Does it affect only LGBTQ people?

The proposal goes beyond removing protections for the LGBTQ community and those who have had an abortion.

It appears to weaken other protections, such as those based on race or age, by limiting who must abide by the rules. The Trump proposal would scrap the Obama-era rule’s broad definition of which providers can be punished by federal health officials for discrimination, a complicated change critics have said could ease requirements for insurance companies, for instance, as well as the agency itself.

And the proposal erases many of the enforcement procedures outlined in the earlier rule, including its explicit ban on intimidation or retaliation. It also delegates to Severino, as the office’s director, full enforcement authority when it comes to things like opening investigations into complaints lodged under the non-discrimination rule.

Why did HHS decide to change the rule?

The Obama and Trump administrations have different opinions about whether a health care provider should be able to refuse service to patients because they are transgender or have had an abortion.

It all goes back to a section in the Affordable Care Act barring discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability or sex. President Barack Obama’s health officials said it is discrimination to treat someone differently based on gender identity or stereotypes.

It was the first time Americans who are transgender were protected from discrimination in health care.

But President Donald Trump’s health officials said that definition of sex discrimination misinterprets civil rights laws, particularly a religious freedom law used to shield providers who object to performing certain procedures, such as abortions, or treating certain patients because they conflict with their religious convictions.

“When Congress prohibited sex discrimination, it did so according to the plain meaning of the term, and we are making our regulations conform,” Severino said in a statement. “The American people want vigorous protection of civil rights and faithfulness to the text of the laws passed by their representatives.”

Much of what the Office for Civil Rights has done under Severino’s leadership is to emphasize and strengthen so-called conscience protections for health care providers, many of which existed well before Trump was sworn in. Last year, Severino unveiled a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, and his office recently finalized another rule detailing those protections and their enforcement.

The office also said the proposed rule would save about $3.6 billion over five years. Most of that would come from eliminating requirements for providers to post notices about discrimination, as well as other measures that cater to those with disabilities and limited English proficiency.

The rule would also save providers money that might instead be spent handling grievances from those no longer protected.

The office “considers this a benefit of the rule,” said Katie Keith, co-founder of Out2Enroll, an organization that helps the LGBTQ community obtain health insurance. “Organizations will have lower labor costs and lower litigation costs because they will no longer have to process grievances or defend against lawsuits brought by transgender people.”

Why does this matter?

Research shows the LGBTQ community faces greater health challenges and higher rates of illness than other groups, making access to equitable treatment in health care all the more important.

Discrimination, from the misuse of pronouns to denials of care, is “commonplace” for transgender patients, according to a 2011 report by advocacy groups. The report found that 28 percent of the 6,450 transgender and gender non-conforming people interviewed said they had experienced verbal harassment in a health care setting, while 19 percent said they had been refused care due to their gender identity.

The report said 28 percent had postponed seeking medical attention when they were sick or injured because of discrimination.

Critics fear the rule would muddy the waters, giving patients less clarity on what is and is not permissible and how to get help when they have been the victims of discrimination.

Jocelyn Samuels, the Obama administration official who oversaw the implementation of the Obama-era rule, said that for now, even though the Trump administration’s HHS will not pursue complaints against those providers, Americans still have the right to challenge this treatment in court. Multiple courts have said the prohibition on sex discrimination includes gender identity.

“The administration should be in the business of expanding access to health care and health coverage,” Samuels told reporters on a conference call after the rule’s release. “And my fear is that this rule does just the opposite.”

[VICE]

Trump piles on Rep. Tlaib over Holocaust comments

President Trump on Monday joined Republicans blasting Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., for comments the Democratic congresswoman made about the Holocaust to Yahoo News’ podcast “Skullduggery.”

“Democrat Rep. Tlaib is being slammed for her horrible and highly insensitive statement on the Holocaust,” Trump tweeted. “She obviously has tremendous hatred of Israel and the Jewish people. Can you imagine what would happen if I ever said what she said, and says?”

In her “Skullduggery” interview Friday, Tlaib, who is Palestinian-American, called Trump “a crooked CEO.” In a different part of the interview, she discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the role Palestinians played in helping provide a “safe haven” for Jews following the Holocaust.

“There’s a kind of a calming feeling, I always tell folks, when I think of the Holocaust and the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the fact that it was my ancestors — Palestinians — who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihood, their human dignity, their existence, in many ways, have been wiped out, and some people’s passports,” Tlaib said. “And just all of it was in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post-the Holocaust, post-the tragedy and the horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time. And I love the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that, right, in many ways. But they did it in a way that took their human dignity away, right, and it was forced on them.”

Tlaib did not specify what her ancestors did to help Jewish refugees fleeing Europe during and after the Holocaust. The grand mufti of Jerusalem, the Islamic cleric overseeing the Muslim holy sites in the city, incited riots against Jews immigrating to Palestine and allied himself with Hitler during World War II. The Arab states surrounding Israel opposed its creation as a Jewish state in 1948 and launched a war against it.

Conservative critics quickly seized on Tlaib’s comments, interpreting them to imply that she approved of the Holocaust, something her spokesman said was not what she meant.

“Rashida Tlaib says thinking of the Holocaust provides her a ‘calming feeling,’ shockingly claims Palestinians created ‘safe haven’ for Jews,” read the headline in the Washington Examiner.

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., tweeted a link to the Examiner story and called on House Democratic leadership to “take action” against Tlaib.

Tlaib’s spokesman, Denzel McCampbell, issued a statement accusing Cheney, Republican leaders and “right-wing extremists” of “spreading outright lies to incite hate.”

“Liz Cheney should be ashamed of herself for using the tragedy of the Holocaust in a transparent attempt to score political points,” McCampbell wrote. “Her behavior cheapens our public discourse and is an insult to the Jewish community and the millions of Americans who stand opposed to the hatred being spread by Donald Trump’s Republican Party.”

McCampbell then attempted to clarify Tlaib’s remarks.

“Rep. Tlaib said thinking about this effort to provide a safe haven for people fleeing persecution brought calm to Rep. Tlaib because her ancestors were involved in helping those tragically impacted by the Holocaust. The Congresswoman did not in any way praise the Holocaust, nor did she say the Holocaust itself brought a calming feeling to her. In fact, she repeatedly called the Holocaust a tragedy and a horrific persecution of Jewish people.”

He added: “This behavior by a bankrupt Republican leadership is dangerous and only increases hateful rhetoric from those who want to cause harm to oppressed people.”

The attacks from Republicans on Tlaib are reminiscent of those against another freshman Democrat, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., over her criticism of Israel. Both Tlaib and Omar were the first Muslim women elected to Congress.

[Yahoo News]

Trump calls Netanyahu ‘your prime minister’ at Jewish American event

Jewish American groups criticized President Donald Trump for calling Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu “your prime minister” during an address Saturday to the Republican Jewish Coalition.

“I stood with your prime minister at the White Hous to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” he told the audience at the RJC’s Annual Leadership conference in Las Vegas.

Some said that Trump’s conflation of American Jews with Israelis played into old anti-Semitic tropes about divided loyalties. 

“Mr. President, the Prime Minister of Israel is the leader of his (or her) country, not ours. Statements to the contrary, from staunch friends or harsh critics, feed bigotry,” the American Jewish Committee said in a response to Trump’s remark that was posted on Twitter. 

“Mr. President, words matter. As with all elected officials, its critical for you to avoid language that leads people to believe Jews aren’t loyal Americans,” tweeted Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. 

Greenblatt included a link to a November 2018 ADL blog post about the “dual loyalty” charge, which it calls an “anti-Semitic allegation” that “Jews should be suspected of being disloyal neighbors or citizens because their true allegiance is to their coreligionists around the world or to a secret and immoral Jewish agenda.”

[USA Today]

Trump Promotes Fox & Friends Segment With ‘Jexodus’ Activist Claiming Democratic Party is Anti-Semitic

President Donald Trump touted the Fox & Friends appearance of an activist calling for Jewish Americans to walk away from the Democratic party.

“Jexodus,” clearly inspired by Candace Owens‘s “Blexit” gimmick, was announced in the wake of controversial comments from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) that were condemned by members of her own party as anti-Semitic.

Elizabeth Pipko, a former Trump campaign staffer and a spokesperson for Jexodus, joined Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy in criticizing Democrats for passing a general anti-hate resolution instead of a specific resolution condemning anti-Semitism.

“They are the party of anti-Semitism,” Pipko said, echoing the president.

And the president was watching. He tweeted a fake quote from Pipko, which was really just a selective collection of her comments poorly transcribed and smashed together:

In Pipko’s interview, Doocy pointed out that in 2016, Hillary Clinton got 71% of the Jewish vote, while Trump got 24%. He asked if she saw that changing in 2020.

Pipko replied that Jexodus is realistic but optimistic. When pressed by Ainsley Earhardt as the why Jews don’t support Trump, Pipko made a confession about Jewish Democrats: “I don’t think they’re going to change.”

[Mediaite]

GUY WHO DUBBED NEO-NAZIS “VERY FINE PEOPLE” SUDDENLY CONCERNED ABOUT ANTI-SEMITISM

In August 2017, Donald Trump responded to the Charlottesville riots that resulted in the death of Heather Heyer by insisting that a violent mob of white nationalists—whose ranks included neo-Nazis chanting “Jews will not replace us”—also contained some “very fine people.” For his first International Holocaust Remembrance Day as president, the White House’s statement did not include any mention of Jews or anti-Semitism, a decision it defended by claiming that such a reference would have excluded all the other people who died, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and anarchists. While running for office, Trump tweeted an image of Hillary Clinton’s face against a backdrop of $100 bills alongside the Star of David, and closed out his campaign with a dog-whistle to anti-Semites about a group of Jews who make up the “global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.” But on Wednesday, the president insisted he’s super committed to stamping out anti-Semitism in a tweet that was 100 percent sincere and not at all politically motivated:

Trump, of course, is all worked up after progressives in the House Democratic caucus protested plans to vote on a resolution condemning religious hatred, in the wake of the uproar over freshman Representative Ilhan Omar’s bad tweets questioning U.S. support for Israel. There’s plenty of hypocrisy to go around: Republicans spent years ignoring Rep. Steve King’s paeans to the white race, until King literally asked when the term “white supremacist” became offensive. In 2002, Rep. Steve Scalise, who bashed Omar on Fox News, just happened to pop up at a white supremacist-hosted rally. Just this week, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler attacked Republican Rep. Jim Jordan for an “inane AND anti-Semitic” tweet in which he spelled the name of billionaire Tom Steyer, a liberal activist whose father was Jewish, with a “$” in place of the S. (In a statement, Jordan’s spokesman said, “Congressman Jordan has always stood against hatred and bigotry,” adding somewhat strangely, “Also, according to public sources, Steyer is Episcopalian.”)

Omar, for her part, isn’t apologizing after criticizing a “political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” After Rep. Eliot Engel called her apparent reference to dual loyalty a “vile, anti-Semitic slur,” Omar shot back that the charge of anti-Semitism is “designed to end the debate” about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians—a sentiment echoed by Bernie Sanders in a statement Wednesday.

The entire debate is surely above Donald Trump’s head, but that isn’t stopping him from weaponizing the issue to his benefit. Strangely, his pure moral outrage was nowhere to be seen in 2015, when he was telling a group of Jewish Republicans that they couldn’t control him because “I don’t want your money” or outing Jonathan Leibowitz—“I mean Jon Stewart”—as a Jew. In sum, everyone involved here is terrible.

[Vanity Fair]

Trump Says Pittsburgh Shooter and Mail Bomber Stopped His ‘Incredible’ Midterm Momentum

On Thursday, President Donald Trump said the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter and the mail bomber who sent packages to CNN and Democratic targets stopped his “incredible” midterm momentum.

“Now, we did have two maniacs stop a momentum that was incredible. Because for 7 days, nobody talked about the elections. It stopped a tremendous momentum.” Trump said, before adding, “More importantly, we have to take care of our people, and we don’t care about momentum when it comes to a disgrace like just happened to the country, but it did nevertheless stop a certain momentum.”

He then said the momentum is once again picking up.

During the same rally, Trump also declared the election the “election of Kavanaugh” and “caravans.”

[Mediaite]

Trump, Asked by Reporter If Soros Is Funding the Caravan, Says ‘I Wouldn’t Be Surprised’

Speaking outside the White House on Wednesday, President Donald Trump refused to rule out the possibility that George Soros might be behind the migrant caravan.

Trump was first asked if he thought someone was funding the caravan.

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” Trump replied.

George Soros?” a reporter pressed.

“I don’t know who, but I wouldn’t be surprised,” Trump continued on. “A lot of people say yes.”

A “lot of people” includes Fox News folks like Lou Dobbs and Laura Ingraham, as well as pro-Trump Congressman Matt Gaetz who tweeted out this:

The conspiracy theory — which apparently dates back to March — may also have contributed to the synagogue slayings in Pittsburgh.

Standing on the White House lawn on Wednesday, Trump gave no further indication about why he would “not be surprised” that Soros was involved, although blaming Soros has proven popular among Trump’s base.

[Mediaite]

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