Administration

Trump on 2020 Dems skipping AIPAC: ‘I think they’re anti-Jewish’

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President Trump on Friday renewed his attacks on Democrats as “anti-Jewish” in response to a number of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates deciding to skip the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) annual conference in Washington.

{mosads}“I don’t know what’s happened to them but they are totally anti-Israel,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House. “Frankly, I think they’re anti-Jewish.”

The comments are Trump’s latest attempt to stoke internal divisions among Democrats over Israel and anti-Semitism in an effort to bolster his appeals to Jewish Americans, in part by highlighting actions he has taken to support the Israeli government.

Trump a day earlier said the U.S. should recognize Israeli control of the disputed Golan Heights territory between Israel and Syria, breaking with longstanding policy that its status be determined via peace negotiations.

“After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” Trump tweeted on Thursday, citing the land’s “critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!”

The announcement marked a diplomatic victory for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has closely aligned himself with Trump ahead of his reelection race that has been complicated by looming corruption indictments against the Israeli leader.

Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with Trump next week at the White House during a visit to Washington, D.C., during which he will also speak at AIPAC. Trump himself is not expected to attend the event.

At least eight Democratic candidates will not attend this year’s confab of pro-Israel activists and political bigwigs, including top-tier contenders such as Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) as well as former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas).

Progressive groups such as MoveOn have pressured Democrats to skip the gathering over objections to Israel’s settlement policies. This year’s conference is taking place amid tensions among Democrats sparked in large part by freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-Minn.) criticisms of AIPAC earlier this year that were widely condemned as anti-Semitic.

Omar suggested politicians only support Israel in order to get donations from pro-Israel activists and later said those activists are pushing for “allegiance to a foreign country,” echoing accusations about money and dual loyalty that have been used against Jews for centuries.

Trump said earlier this month that the Democrats’ response to those comments — they passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry without singling out Omar — showed the party is “anti-Jewish” and claimed Jews are leaving the Democratic Party in droves.

Democrats have pushed back against Trump’s comments, accusing him of hypocrisy by pointing to his past comments that have been criticized for going easy on white nationalists and containing anti-Semitic themes.

Trump said in 2017 there were “very fine people on both sides” of a deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in which marchers carried Nazi insignias and chanted “Jews will not replace us.”

“@realDonaldTrump – Many Dems are participating in @AIPAC, including us,” the Jewish Democratic Council of America tweeted in response to the president. “We disagree with @MoveOn’s approach … Also, stop lying about Democrats and Israel. Jews should not be treated as political pawns.”

–Updated at 11:09 a.m.

Tags AIPAC Bernie Sanders Democrats Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Ilhan Omar Jewish voters White House
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