Groups criticize Trump over comments to Jewish audience

Several Jewish groups have criticized President Donald Trump over a speech he delivered Saturday to an Israeli-American organization, accusing him of using anti-Semitic stereotypes.

Speaking at the Israeli American Council National Summit in Florida, Trump suggested that many of the attendees at the event are wealthy and in real estate and that their wealth would guide their votes in the 2020 presidential election.

“A lot of you are in the real estate business because I know you very well. You’re brutal killers, not nice people at all. But you have to vote for me, you have no choice,” he said.

Trump argued the Israeli-American crowd would not be able to vote for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat running for president, because of her proposed wealth tax plan.

“You’re not going to vote for the wealth tax. …Yeah, let’s take 100% 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. And you’re going to be my biggest supporters because you’d be out of business in about 15 minutes if they get it,” Trump said.

Warren has proposed a plan that would impose a 2% tax on Americans whose net worth exceeds $50 million, with an additional 1% levy on billionaires. It does not specifically address marginal tax rates.

Trump’s remarks were greeted with laughter and applause from the conservative-leaning crowd, which at several points during Trump’s speech chanted “four more years.”

But the remarks drew sharp criticism from several Jewish groups that argued Trump was peddling anti-Semitic tropes by suggesting Jewish people are motivated by money.

The American Jewish Committee on Sunday called for Trump to change his rhetoric.

“Dear @POTUS – Much as we appreciate your unwavering support for Israel, surely there must be a better way to appeal to American Jewish voters, as you just did in Florida, than by money references that feed age-old and ugly stereotypes. Let’s stay off that mine-infested road.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive officer of the Anti-Defamation League, a group that monitors anti-Semitism around the world, also denounced Trump’s remarks in a series of Twitter posts, arguing he trafficked in “anti-Semitic tropes.”

“While important @POTUS called out BDS and #antiSemitism, it’s essentially undone by his own trafficking of #antiSemitic tropes: questioning American Jews’ loyalty to Israel and asserting that Jewish voters only care about their wealth,” Greenblatt tweeted on Sunday. “Instead of speaking singularly about hate, he attacked Ds. While some trends on the left are incredibly problematic, that’s no excuse to discount/ignore hateful trends on the extreme right that led to the murder of Jews in Pittsburgh & Poway; Latinos in #ElPaso; and others.”

Greenblatt added: “So, yet again, we’re reminded of the necessity to call out #antiSemitism as a vile poison but these comments fall short of the mark and actually could empower those who traffic in bigotry.”

Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, slammed Trump’s remarks as “anti-Semitic” and “deeply offensive.”

“As predicted, @realDonaldTrump, addressing a room full of Jews, invoked anti-Semitic tropes suggesting Jews are motivated by money and not loyal “enough” to Israel,” she said in a post on Twitter on Sunday. “His remarks were unequivocally anti-Semitic, deeply offensive, and completely consistent with his past statements.”

Matt Brooks, the executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, defended Trump’s comments, saying “To all those who are saying @realDonaldTrump trafficked in anti-semitic tropes in his speech last night by talking about how the Dems will tax them see their wealth evaporate- get over yourselves. He literally talks about this at every rally!”

This is not the first time the President has been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks or peddling anti-Semitic tropes.

In August, Jewish leaders criticized Trump over his remarks that Jewish Americans who vote for Democrats show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

Trump made similar remarks on Saturday, castigating some Jewish Americans for not loving Israel “enough.”

While Trump came under fire for making anti-Semitic remarks, the President also spent part of his speech addressing the rise in anti-Semitism in the US and around the world and proclaimed that his administration “is committed to aggressively challenging and confronting anti-Semitic bigotry in every resource, and using every single weapon at our disposal.”

Trump also accused “far-left members of Congress” of pushing “dangerous anti-Semitic rhetoric” and called the fight against anti-Semitism “a top priority for our country.” He also invited Elan Carr, the US’s special envoy for combatting anti-Semitism, to the stage.