A day after saying that American Jews who vote for Democrats show “great disloyalty,” President Trump on Wednesday repeated a claim by a supporter that he is beloved by Israeli Jews “like a king” or "the second coming of God."
Trump shared on Twitter quotes from Newsmax TV's Wayne Allyn Root, who declared him the greatest president for Jews and Israel “in the history of the world.”
“Thank you to Wayne Allyn Root for the very nice words. “President Trump is the greatest President for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world, not just America, he is the best President for Israel in the history of the world...and the Jewish people in Israel love him....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2019
Root made the comments on his eponymous call-in show on Tuesday night.
A former Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee and author of the 2015 book “Angry White Male: How the Donald Trump Phenomenon Is Changing America,” Root is known for promoting wild, baseless conspiracy theories. In 2017, he claimed the mass shooting in Las Vegas was a “clearly coordinated Muslim terror attack.”
After Trump moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, a long-sought goal of the Israeli government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared the American president to another king, Cyrus of Persia, who allowed Jews to return to Israel, ending their exile in Babylon, in the 6th century B.C. More pointedly, some pro-Trump organs have begun comparing him to an actual king of Israel, King David. (Comparisons to King Solomon have been much fewer, although Nancy Pelosi once, rather pointedly, reminded him that Solomon asked God for, and received, the gift of wisdom.)
Many evangelicals in the U.S. regard Trump as an instrument of God’s will, in that he is abetting the Jewish dominion over Israel they regard as a precondition for the Second Coming of Christ. But none have gone quite so far as to suggest that Christ is returning in the person of the former head of the Miss Universe pageant. There is a long tradition in rabbinic Judaism of rejecting “false Messiahs.”
Trump also sought to escalate his feud with Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., claiming she wants to “cut off aid to Israel.”
“This is the new face the of Democrat Party?” the president tweeted about the freshman congresswoman.
On Tuesday, Trump stirred outrage when he was asked by a reporter in the Oval Office if the U.S. should reconsider its policies toward Israel after the country refused to permit Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., to enter.
“Any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” Trump said.
It wasn’t clear what he meant by “disloyalty” — and whether it is to Israel, the U.S. or their faith.
The president himself has trafficked in “dual loyalty” accusations, referring to Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu as “your prime minister” when talking at a conference of Jewish Americans and calling Israel “your country” at a White House Hanukkah celebration. Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric was blamed by some Jews for inspiring a terror attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue in which 11 people died last year.
Although Trump has many prominent Jewish supporters, and his daughter and son-in-law are Jewish, the majority of American Jews have supported Democrats for generations, and continue to do so.
According to a Pew Research study, 79 percent of Jewish voters went for Democrats in the 2018 midterms. Pew said this number has varied over the years, from 87 percent in 2006 to 66 percent in 2014. In presidential races, the Jewish vote since 2000 has ranged from 69 percent to 79 percent for Democrats, with Hillary Clinton getting 71 percent against Trump in the 2016 race.
Trump in the past has claimed the Bible as his favorite book, although he has shown little knowledge of it. One passage that might be relevant is found in Acts 12:21-23, about the ancient King Herod. It reads:
On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.
— Jerry Adler contributed reporting to this story
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