WASHINGTON – Jewish American groups criticized President Donald Trump for calling Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu "your prime minister" during an address Saturday to the Republican Jewish Coalition.
"I stood with your prime minister at the White Hous to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights," he told the audience at the RJC's Annual Leadership conference in Las Vegas.
Some said that Trump's conflation of American Jews with Israelis played into old anti-Semitic tropes about divided loyalties.
"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," the American Jewish Committee said in a response to Trump's remark that was posted on Twitter.
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
"Mr. President, words matter. As with all elected officials, its critical for you to avoid language that leads people to believe Jews aren’t loyal Americans," tweeted Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.
Greenblatt included a link to a November 2018 ADL blog post about the "dual loyalty" charge, which it calls an "anti-Semitic allegation" that "Jews should be suspected of being disloyal neighbors or citizens because their true allegiance is to their coreligionists around the world or to a secret and immoral Jewish agenda."
Mr. President, words matter. As with all elected officials, its critical for you to avoid language that leads people to believe Jews aren’t loyal Americans. https://t.co/fHk91Q00El https://t.co/4sRm8tJvt8
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) April 7, 2019
And FTR , Trump's use of "your Prime Minister" to US Jews isn't okay. It feeds the trope that Jews put Israel above the country in which they live, classic dual loyalty idea. Jews care about Israel for good reason (it's our homeland) but it does not change allegiance
— Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll (@skjask) April 7, 2019
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., added his criticism Sunday, tweeting that Trump "wades right into the anti-Semitic dual-loyalty lie."
ICYMI, @realDonaldTrump wades right into the anti-Semitic dual-loyalty lie. I will continue to condemn anti-Semitism from the Right and Left. Trump calls Netanyahu 'your prime minister' to crowd of American Jews https://t.co/yGl7xWLpKO
— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) April 8, 2019
"I somehow doubt the president would say 'your Taoiseach' to a roomful of Irish-Americans," tweeted the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel, D-N.Y. Taoiseach is the titie for Ireland's prime minister.
A number of commentators compared Trump's remark to the comments and tweets from Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., that were also accused of playing into anti-Semitic tropes about divided loyalty.
"@IlhanMN was slammed for saying 'it's all about the Benjamins' (a hip hop lyric) specifically about AIPAC lobby money. @realDonaldTrump literally just told a group of Jews that Benjamin is YOUR Prime Minister. Will the @GOP put out a statement condemning him? Resolution anyone?" tweeted Southern Methodist University Professor Omar Suleiman.
@IlhanMN was slammed for saying "it's all about the Benjamins" (a hip hop lyric) specifically about AIPAC lobby money. @realDonaldTrump literally just told a group of Jews that Benjamin is YOUR Prime Minister. Will the @GOP put out a statement condemning him? Resolution anyone?
— Omar Suleiman (@omarsuleiman504) April 7, 2019
Activist Tim Wise said the comment revealed that Trumps "either thinks Jews are Israelis or we Jews have our own Prime Minister."
"Either way, the comment implies we aren't really Americans, and is FAR more offensive than anything @IlhanMN said. Where is the outrage?" Wise tweeted.
Trump sarcastically thanked Omar during his speech Saturday before adding, "Oh, I forgot. She doesn't like Israel," as the crowd booed at the mention of her name.
He also accused Democrats allowing "the terrible scourge of anti-Semitism to take root in their party and in their country."
"If implemented, the Democrats' radical agenda would destroy our economy, cripple our country, and very well could leave Israel out there all by yourselves," he said, again apparently confusing the American crowd for Israelis.
The Washington-based RJC was founded in 1985 with the aim of building a "bridge between the Jewish community and Republican decision-makers." The organization firmly supports Trump.
After the president's speech, Matt Brooks, the RJC's executive director, thanked Trump for "being the most pro-Israel President in history."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump criticized for calling Netanyahu 'your prime minister' at Jewish Republican event