WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump suggested Tuesday that Jewish citizens who vote for Democrats are either insensible or disloyal.
“Any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat -- I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty," Trump told reporters during an Oval Office photo op.
The president's comments come after days of headlines about the relationship and ties between the U.S. and the Jewish state of Israel. The past week has been a turbulent time as Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, Trump and top Israel officials have all sparred over the progressive lawmakers' record of criticizing Israel.
"Where has the Democratic Party gone?" Trump continued Tuesday. "Where have they gone that where they're defending these two people over the state of Israel?"
In a highly unprecedented move last week,Trump publicly urged Israel to block Tlaib and Omar from visiting the country, saying that doing so would show "great weakness." Soon after, Israel denied the congresswomen entry, citing a 2017 law that bars foreigners who publicly support boycotts of Israel. Israel later granted Tlaib, who is of Palestinian descent, access to the West Bank on humanitarian grounds to visit her grandmother — conditions the Detriot Democrat rejected.
It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 15, 2019
Jewish citizens, however, have recently overwhelmingly voted for Democratic candidates. In the last two federal election cycles in 2018 and 2016, Jews voted for Democrats over 70% of the time.
According to the Pew Research Center, in the 2018 midterm elections, Jewish voters sided with Democratic candidates running for seats in the House of Representatives 79% of the time. In 2016, Jewish citizens were firmly in Hillary Clinton’s corner at 71%, while only 24% sided with Trump -- a breakdown that has been a consistent trend in presidential elections going to back to at least 2000, according to Pew's analysis of exit polling data.
Trump's comments Tuesday echo a tone the president struck in March of this year, while tweeting about "the ‘Jexodus’ movement."
The ‘Jexodus’ movement encourages Jewish people to leave the Democrat Party. Total disrespect! Republicans are waiting with open arms. Remember Jerusalem (U.S. Embassy) and the horrible Iran Nuclear Deal! @OANN @foxandfriends
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2019
Additionally, according to Pew, in Congress, every sitting Jewish senator and 30 of 32 current Jewish members of the House of Representatives are Democrats.
Tuesday Trump also mocked Tlaib's display of emotion Monday after she decided not to visit her grandmother in the West Bank after initially being barred by Israel. The president claimed the Democratic congresswoman "grandstanded" when she shed tears during a live, televised press conference Monday.
Tlaib got tearful as she spoke about visits she had made as a young girl to see her grandmother in the West Bank. When she spoke about her mother and herself having to go through "dehumanizing checkpoints," Tlaib grew visibly emotional.
Contributing: Christal Hayes
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump: Jewish citizens voting for Democrats show 'great disloyalty'