Trump: Jewish Biden voters ‘should have their head examined’

Presumptive GOP nominee taps into Christian anger, lashes Jews backing a president who has ‘lost control of Israel situation’; Biden spokesman slams his threats to Jewish Americans

Presumptive Republican nominee, former US President Donald Trump gestures as he visits a Chick-fil-A eatery in Atlanta, Georgia, April 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen)
Presumptive Republican nominee, former US President Donald Trump gestures as he visits a Chick-fil-A eatery in Atlanta, Georgia, April 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen)

Donald Trump on Wednesday questioned the mental fitness of Jewish voters who back United States President Joe Biden and framed this year’s election as a referendum on the strength of Christianity in the US, part of the presumptive Republican nominee’s sharp-edged continuing appeal to evangelical conservatives who are a critical element of his political base.

Speaking in Atlanta ahead of a fundraiser, Trump renewed his running criticism of the president’s reaction to the Israel-Hamas war and the administration’s support for the rights of LGBTQ Americans, including transgender persons.

“Biden has totally lost control of the Israel situation,” said Trump, whose rise in 2016 depended heavily on white Christian conservatives. “Any Jewish person who votes for a Democrat or votes for Biden should have their head examined.”

Trump spoke after Biden last week warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that future US support for Israel’s Gaza war depends on the swift implementation of new steps to protect civilians and aid workers.

In Trump’s interpretation, Biden “has totally abandoned Israel.”

Days after Hamas’s October 7 onslaught, Trump criticized Israel for failing to anticipate the attack, called Defense Minister Yoav Gallant a “jerk” and criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. More recently, he has spoken in favor of Israel “finishing the job” against Hamas, but has also panned Israel’s handling of the war and said it should finish it up quickly.

The Gaza conflict has sandwiched Biden between conservatives – both Christian and Jewish – who want stalwart support for Netanyahu’s government, and progressives. The matter is important to conservative Christians, among Trump’s most supportive constituencies, who see the political state of Israel as the modern manifestation of God’s chosen people, the Israelites of the Old Testament in the Christian Bible.

Biden’s left flank, though, is dominated by progressives incensed by Israel’s retaliation in Gaza, which has resulted in thousands of Palestinian deaths. The president has repeatedly been greeted by protesters throughout his spring travels, and activists have organized votes against Biden in many Democratic primaries, even as he coasts to renomination.

Protesters block Pennsylvania Avenue, on which the White House is located, during a pro-Palestinian demonstration near the United States Capitol, in preparation for United States President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address to a joint session of the US Congress, March 7, 2024, in Washington (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

The president’s campaign pushed back on Wednesday.

“Jewish Americans do not need to be ‘spoken to’ or threatened by Donald Trump,” said Biden spokesman James Singer. “This is what Trump does, using division and hate as political weapons while seeking power for himself. Voters of all stripes will reject his chaos, violence and unhinged threats once again in November.”

In Georgia, Trump stoked his Christian base anew by putting the Election Day stakes in religious terms.

“November 5th is the most important day in the history of our country, and it’s going to be Christian Visibility Day,” Trump said, repeating for emphasis: “Christian Visibility Day.”

Christians, he predicted, “are going to come out, and they’re going to vote like never before.”

The presumptive Republican nominee for president, former US President Donald Trump, speaks after arriving in Atlanta, Georgia, April 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen)

The former president was nodding to conservative Christian anger over the International Transgender Day of Visibility, a worldwide celebration of transgender persons and acknowledgment of their struggles, and Biden’s recognition of the occasion.

The observance traces its origins to 2009 but has grown in prominence, and this year coincided with Easter Sunday, the holiest day of the Christian calendar. When Biden, a Catholic, issued a March 29 proclamation declaring the same Sunday to be the official Transgender Day of Visibility in the United States, conservatives reacted with a social media firestorm, with some commenters even suggesting Biden and his aides deliberately set the date to insult Christians.

“Today, we send a message to all transgender Americans: You are loved. You are heard. You are understood. You belong,” Biden said in the proclamation. “You are America, and my entire administration and I have your back.”

Most of the president’s critics ignored the fact that he separately issued a statement on Easter itself, specifically reflecting his own faith.

United States President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (unpictured) in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, April 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

“Easter reminds us of the power of hope and the promise of Christ’s Resurrection,” Biden said. “As we gather with loved ones, we remember Jesus’ sacrifice. We pray for one another and cherish the blessing of the dawn of new possibilities. And with wars and conflict taking a toll on innocent lives around the world, we renew our commitment to work for peace, security, and dignity for all people.

“From our family to yours,” Biden concluded, “Happy Easter and may God bless you.”

Notably, Trump on Wednesday also emphasized his stance on abortion, insisting that the matter should be left to state governments and that, even there, Republicans should not pursue absolute bans — an overall approach that puts the former president to the left of the most outspoken activists on the Christian right. On that matter, however, Trump did not invoke religious doctrines and loyalties.

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