US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday said President Donald Trump had “redefined chutzpah” by saying the Democratic party had become an “anti-Israel” and “anti-Jewish” party.
The Jewish Schumer wrote on Facebook that Trump’s comments were “a new divisive low,” adding that “when neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville in front of a synagogue and said ‘burn it down’…he said ‘both sides’ are to blame.”
The presidents statements showed he “is only interested in playing the politics of division and not in fighting anti-Semitism,” Schumer said.
Trump had earlier told reporters that a recent US House of Representatives vote condemning bigotry, which had originally been intended to condemn anti-Semitism but became a broader anti-hate measure, “was disgraceful.”
He added: “The Democrats have become an anti-Israel party and anti-Jewish party.”
The action had come after controversial comments by Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. The former Somali refugee was heavily criticized for suggesting supporters of Israel were urging lawmakers to have “allegiance to a foreign country.”
Lawmakers expressed outrage, warning that Omar was peddling in age-old anti-Semitic tropes about Jews having dual loyalties.
But following internal Democratic disputes, the motion was broadened out to include all forms of bigotry, including Islamophobia and discrimination against other minorities.
The resolution passed overwhelmingly, 407 to 23, with all Democrats voting in favor including Omar herself. Republicans generally joined in the favorable vote, though nearly two-dozen opposed the measure.
Trump comments were also criticized by the Jewish Democratic Council of America. Executive Director Halie Soifer said “We are appalled, but not surprised, that President Trump has once again demonstrated dishonesty, hypocrisy, and willingness to use anti-Semitism and Israel as a political football.”
Soifer pointed to anti-Semitic tropes used in the past by Trump, saying that “the president’s own words have fueled the fire of intolerance and targeting of Jews, and Republicans have failed to condemn the president’s remarks in the same way that Democrats were quick to rebuke Representative Omar.
The Democratic vote also revealed divisions within the American Jewish community, with some groups welcoming the measure while others blasted it as watered down.
“While we commend Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to bring to the floor the issue of anti-Semitism within its ranks, the politically expedient resolution failed to call out Representative Omar by name and failed to take into account the historically unique dimensions of the anti-Semitic themes trafficked by Rep. Omar,” the Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a statement shortly following the vote.
Other prominent Jewish groups, however, welcomed the resolution. The Anti-Defamation League said it was “pleased the House of Representatives took a firm stance against anti-Semitism, including making an explicit statement rejecting the pernicious myth of dual loyalty and other vile slurs that have been used to persecute Jews for centuries.”
The Orthodox Union welcomed the measure but said “it would have been better for the House of Representatives to respond to recent incidents of anti-Semitism with a resolution exclusively addressing that topic.”
Eric Cortellessa and agencies contributed to this report