Editorial: Trump declares disloyalty in Jewish Democrats


cartoon by Sophie Hare

President Trump has inexcusably accused Jews who vote for Democrats as disloyal Americans.

By Editorial Staff, Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

In a press conference in the Oval Office this past August, President Trump stated that American Jews who vote for Democrats in elections show a “lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

To any rational person, not only is this statement grossly inaccurate, but it also actively grants violent, antisemitic aggressors the right to further their hateful agenda against the American Jewish population. The President of the United States essentially gave live ammunition to some of the Jewish people’s fiercest enemies both at home and abroad.

The President’s comments come at an intensely difficult period for Jews in America, which he has since greatly exacerbated. In 2017 alone, the Anti-Defamation League discovered 1,986 antisemitic incidents in the United States, a recorded increase of nearly 60 percent from the year prior.

The President is correct when he points out that most Jews vote Democratic: 71 percent of Jews voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential Election, according to Jewish Virtual Library. However, when the President makes accusations of Jews being disloyal to America for their favoritism of Democrats, he enables the extremist voices to come out of the shadows and into the light, armed with their disgraceful views.

The President not only indirectly incites violence through his bully pulpit on Twitter and hateful rhetoric on the campaign trail, but also has been unwilling to accept any culpability in the aftermath of tragic events. Take the recent anti-immigrant-motivated mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas and the antisemitic shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018.

Both are examples of extremism rooted in deep hatred for two groups of people simply because of their unique backgrounds that differ from the nativist culture of those the President encourages. In both instances, the President denied that his rhetoric played any role at all in motivating such events or producing an environment for hate to exist.

Of course, the President is not the only one to blame for the increasing violence and hate in America; plenty of politicians on both sides bear responsibility, too.

But President Trump’s words have gone far beyond the boundaries of the political climate in Washington; in July, he tweeted, “Why don’t they go back and help the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” He was referring to four minority Democratic Congresswomen who have partaken in hostile encounters with the President on political topics.

Several more examples of the President’s unbecoming behavior could be referenced, but one thing is certainly clear: President Trump’s words questioning the intelligence and loyalty of Jewish Democrats in America have no place in our society. They further the antisemitism that has already plagued our nation in recent years, from the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va. in 2017 to the shooting at the Chabad of Poway outside of San Diego, Ca.

What is also clear is that our President does not understand the power of his words nor the influence of the office he holds to sway public opinion, and potentially lead to tragic events the likes of which we have witnessed recently. President Trump’s bigotted words should motivate us to rise above these wrong accusations and treat them as they are: wholly antisemitic and baseless claims rooted in age-old, malicious associations of the Jewish people.

Furthermore, Trump’s comments and his corresponding hate and fear-mongering-filled behavior should encourage every American Jew to express their views through the electoral process, regardless of their individual affiliations. So next year, let’s go vote for our favored candidates, whether they are Democrats or Republicans, and be undeterred by the President’s shameful behavior.

This story was originally published on The Lion’s Tale on October 4, 2019.