Trump promotes antisemitic claim that Israel used to have 'absolute power over Congress'

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Former President Donald Trump is once again criticizing American Jews for turning their back on Israel and employing antisemitic tropes he previously accused Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) of using.

Former President Donald Trump is once again slamming American Jews over what he claims are their political beliefs, hitting on a number of antisemitic tropes to lament his lack of support within the Jewish community.

In the 2020 presidential election, which Trump maintains he won despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Trump received support from only about a third of Jewish voters, a historically Democratic-leaning bloc, according to the Associated Press' VoteCast polling.

In newly released audio from an interview conducted by Barak Ravid, an Israeli journalist who writes for Axios, Trump says, "There's people in this country that are Jewish, no longer love Israel. I'll tell you, the evangelical Christians love Israel more than the Jews in this country. It used to be that Israel had absolute power over Congress. And today I think it's the exact opposite. And I think Obama and Biden did that."

"Dual loyalty" is an antisemitic trope used to paint Jews as an "other" more loyal to a foreign nation than their non-Jewish counterparts. Here, Trump inverts the trope, instead saying Jews are not loyal enough to Israel, calling their allegiances into question and insisting that the demographic group should act as a monolith.

By claiming "Israel had absolute power over Congress," Trump also insinuates that Jews control the government, casting them in the frequent stereotype as power-hungry puppet-masters who wield outsize influence over domestic and global affairs.

Trump himself slammed Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota in 2019 for what some called an antisemitic tweet she posted, "It's all about the Benjamins baby," in referring to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a lobbying group that advocates on behalf of Israel. Omar apologized, but Trump said that her apology was insufficient and that she "should be ashamed of herself."

In the interview with Ravid, Trump employed another antisemitic trope, this one about supposed Jewish control of the media: "The New York Times hates Israel. Hates them. And they're Jewish people that run the New York Times, I mean the Sulzberger family."

Surveys have shown that American Jews' and Democrats' attitudes toward Israel have changed in the months since a flare-up in May in violence between Israelis and Palestinians that began with an Israeli raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Jewish views on the topic vary widely: A Pew survey that ran in 2019 and 2020 found 45% of Jews consider caring about Israel "essential" to their religion and only 16% said it is "not important" to their Jewish identity.

But the shift in the Democratic Party could be seen in a dayslong funding battle in September of this year between moderates and progressives in the House over sending $1 billion to Israel to support its Iron Dome missile defense system.

This isn't the first time Trump has invoked antisemitic tropes about the Jewish American community.

Days after Trump's inauguration in 2017, the White House released a statement marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day that completely omitted any mention of Jews.

After neo-Nazis marched at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017, chanting, "Jews will not replace us," Trump refused to immediately condemn the white supremacists, instead saying, "You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides," only buckling to pressure following immense backlash over those comments.

During Trump's 2018 trip to Europe, his chief of staff John Kelly reportedly had to warn him not to praise Adolf Hitler. According to the book "Frankly, We Did Win This Election," by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender, Trump had reportedly insisted during that trip that Hitler "did a lot of good things," pointing to Germany's economic recovery in the 1930s.

Speaking with The Guardian in July, a Trump spokesperson claimed the anecdote about Trump's comments was "made-up fake news."

In 2019, while speaking at the Israeli American Council in Hollywood, Florida, Trump peddled stereotypes about Jews, greed, and wealth. After commenting about how Jews "don't love Israel enough," he told the crowd, "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."

He added that they would never vote for someone like then-Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren over him.

"You're not gonna vote for the wealth tax," he said. "Yeah, let's take 100% of your wealth away! Some of you don't like me. Some of you I don't like at all, actually. And you're going to be my biggest supporters because you're going to be out of business in about 15 minutes if [Democrats win]."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.