Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders returned fire on Tuesday after President Trump accused Jewish people who vote Democratic of being disloyal.
“I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office earlier Tuesday.
“Let me say this to the president. I am a proud Jewish person. And I have no concerns about voting Democratic,” the Vermont senator shot back during a campaign speech in Sioux City, Iowa.
“In fact, I intend to vote for a Jewish man to become the next president of the United States,” Sanders quipped.
My message to Trump: I am a proud Jewish person and I have no concerns about voting Democratic. pic.twitter.com/vNEQfRnb5f
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 21, 2019
Trump’s comments were in the context of a discussion of two congresswomen who were denied entry to Israel because of their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.
“Five years ago, the concept of even talking about this – even three years ago – 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. “Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they’re defending these two people over the State of Israel?”
Other Jewish leaders expressed outrage about the president’s comments.
The hashtag #DisloyalToTrump also trended on Twitter, Jewish users pushing back against what some said was the president’s propagating of an “anti-Semitic trope” of Jewish people of having dual loyalties.
“It’s unclear who @POTUS is claiming Jews would be ‘disloyal’ to, but charges of disloyalty have long been used to attack Jews. As we’ve said before, it’s possible to engage in the democratic process without these claims. It’s long overdue to stop using Jews as a political football,” wrote Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.
Meanwhile, the Republican Jewish Coalition defended Trump.
“President Trump is right, it shows a great deal of disloyalty to oneself to defend a party that protects/emboldens people that hate you for your religion,” the group said.
Recent polling has suggested that Sanders’ campaign may be picking up steam as he gains on Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and frontrunner former vice president Joe Biden.