A dovish Israeli former minister lashed out at the US president Donald Trump for his nativist attacks on congresswomen of color, noting that Trump himself was the grandson of immigrants.
The comments from Yossi Beilin, an ex-justice minister who served in the Labor and Meretz parties, came as most Israeli politicians have refused to weigh in on comments from Trump that have been derided as racist, even as the president has attempted to bring Israel into the brawl.
“Trump is part of just the second generation from his family to be born in America and he talks about people who come from countries that don’t have appropriate governments? Does he not remember where his own family came from? What kind of inappropriate rulers they’ve had?” Beilin told The Times of Israel this week.
Trump’s grandfather Frederick Trump immigrated to the US from Germany in 1885.
“He should be careful that others don’t tell him to return back to where he came from,” Beilin quipped wryly.
On Sunday, Trump tweeted that a group of Democratic congresswomen of color, referring to Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others, should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
His comments were widely seen as directed against Ocasio-Cortez and three other outspoken freshman Democrats, self-described as “the squad: Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib. All were born in the US except for Omar, who came to the US as a child after fleeing Somalia with her family.
Trump accused the four of “spewing some of the most vile, hateful and disgusting things ever said by a politician” and told them, “If you hate our country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave!”
In further tirades against the congresswomen, he has slammed them as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.
“If Democrats want to unite around the foul language & racist hatred spewed from the mouths and actions of these very unpopular & unrepresentative Congresswomen, it will be interesting to see how it plays out. I can tell you that they have made Israel feel abandoned by the U.S.,” he tweeted this week.
Beilin lamented Trump’s decision to “bring Israel into this matter,” arguing that it will cause considerable damage to the historically bipartisan support for the Jewish state.
While Beilin spoke freely on the matter, current Israeli officials have avoided taking shots at the president, despite his employment of rhetoric that has been used against Jews and other minorities around the world.
….and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2019
The Prime Minister’s Office, the Foreign Ministry, the Education Ministry and the Diaspora Affairs Ministry all declined requests for comment. The Jewish Agency and the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum similarly chose not to respond.
Beilin claimed that nobody in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government will criticize the White House without the premier’s go ahead.
The Blue and White, Labor and Meretz parties also refused to comment.
The lone MKs who did choose to speak out on the matter were Hadash-Ta’al chairman Ayman Odeh and Aida Touma-Sliman.
“Trump went on a racist attack against left wing congresswomen of color. Trump and Netanyahu work in the same way. They represent the same racism, nationalism and incitement against minorities as a political tool,” Touma-Sliman said in a statement retweeted by Odeh.
Danny Ayalon, a former Yisrael Beytenu MK who served as ambassador to the US from 2002-2006, defended Trump and asserted that the US president had no racist intentions.
The former ambassador added that had Trump directed his comments at someone from Europe, “I don’t think anyone would have claimed racism.”
In the US, while most Republicans avoided criticizing the sitting president, four Congress members from Trump’s party voted in favor of a House resolution condemning his remarks: Rep. Will Hurd, Rep. Susan Brooks, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick and Rep. Fred Upton.
In response to the resolution, Trump tweeted that he doesn’t have a “racist bone” in his body.
However, some Republicans have criticized a crowd chanting “Send her back,” directed at Omar, during a Trump rally Wednesday.
Trump himself said he “was not happy” with the chants.
Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters that such cries “have no place in our party and no place in this country.”
But McCarthy, a staunch Trump ally, said the president’s aversion to Omar is based on ideology, not race.
“This is about socialism vs. freedom,” he said, a refrain Republicans are increasingly using as they begin trying to frame their offensive against Democrats for the 2020 presidential and congressional campaigns.