US President Donald Trump told a group of American Jews that Benjamin Netanyahu was “your prime minister” Saturday, appearing to conflate Jews and Israelis.
“I stood with your prime minister at the White House to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” Trump told a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas Saturday, referring to Netanyahu, who is the prime minister of Israel.
He also said Democrats “very well could leave Israel out there all by yourselves.”
While many US Jews are generally supportive of Israel, they have consistently rejected accusations of dual loyalty toward the Jewish state, typically seen as an anti-Semitic canard.
Trump still seems to think that he's speaking to a group of Israelis.
"If implemented, the Democrats' radical agenda would destroy our economy, cripple our country, and very well could leave Israel out there all by yourselves. Can't do that." pic.twitter.com/qWvCNKjB8V
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 6, 2019
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The American Jewish Committee tweeted that Trump’s statement could “feed bigotry.”
Mr. President, the Prime Minister of Israel is the leader of his (or her) country, not ours. Statements to the contrary, from staunch friends or harsh critics, feed bigotry. https://t.co/BGlx16NrCK
— AJC (@AJCGlobal) April 7, 2019
Trump’s comments came as he accused Democrats of allowing anti-Semitism to “take root” in their party.
He made fun of Representative Ilhan Omar, who came under fire earlier this year for comments appearing to accuse Jews of dual loyalty to Israel, spurring Trump to claim last month that Democrats “hate” Jews.
Trump mockingly thanked Omar as he began his speech, before adding, “Oh, I forgot. She doesn’t like Israel, I forgot, I’m sorry. No, she doesn’t like Israel, does she? Please, I apologize.”
He also appeared to confuse the Republican group with US Jews in general when he asked how they could have supported his predecessor Barack Obama.
“How the hell did you support President Obama?” he asked the audience. “How did you do it?”
Several of the attendees yelled back “we didn’t.”
American Jews have traditionally voted Democrat, and overwhelmingly backed Obama in 2008 and 2012.
According to AP Votecast, a survey of more than 115,000 midterm voters and 3,500 Jewish voters nationwide, voters who identified as Jewish broke for Democrats over Republicans by a wide margin, 72 percent to 26 percent, in 2018.
Over the past decade, Jewish voters have shown stability in their partisanship, according to data from Pew Research Center. Jewish voters identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party over the Republican Party by a roughly 2-1 ratio.
Trump has stirred controversy at the RJC convention in the past.
When he addressed the RJC in 2015 he said he didn’t expect to earn their support because he wouldn’t take their money. “You want to control your politicians, that’s fine,” Trump said at the time. Ultimately, the group and many of its donors backed Trump.
Eric Cortellessa contributed to this report.