Donald Trump has promoted a claim that Jewish people in Israel love him like he is the “king” of the country and “the second coming of God”.
“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 like he’s the King of Israel,” tweeted Mr Trump, quoting Wayne Allyn Root, a conservative radio host known for promoting conspiracy theories.
“They love him like he is the second coming of God…But American Jews don’t know him or like him. They don’t even know what they’re doing or saying anymore. It makes no sense!”
Mr Trump added his own comment at the end: “Wow!”
The extraordinary series of tweets, including the claim American Jews “don’t even know what they’re doing”, came after the US president on Tuesday appeared to use an antisemitic trope during an attack on two Democratic congresswomen when he suggested Jews who oppose him are “disloyal” to Israel.
Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, who are both women of colour, were barred by Israel last week from visiting for an official trip over their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, after urging from Mr Trump. Israel later agreed to a humanitarian visit for Ms Tlaib to visit her grandmother, who lives in the occupied West Bank. Ms Tlaib declined, saying her grandmother had ultimately urged her not to come under what they considered to be humiliating circumstances.
“Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they are defending these two people over the state of Israel?” said Mr Trump, who had previously urged Israel to keep the Muslim congresswomen out of the country.
“I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”
On Wednesday, Mr Trump doubled down on his claim when he sent a follow-up tweet accusing Ms Tlaib of wanting to “cut off aid to Israel”.
Ms Tlaib and Ms Omar have both said they support the use of boycotts to pressure governments – including Israel’s – over human rights abuses.
“This is the new face the of Democrat Party? Read the AOC PLUS 3 statements on their hatred of Jews and Israel,” Mr Trump added, in reference to congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ms Tlaib, Ms Omar and Ayanna Pressley. “Check out Rep. Omar (the great people of Minnesota won’t stand for this).”
Mr Trump called Ms Omar a “disaster” for Jews and said he didn’t “buy” the tears that Ms Tlaib shed as she discussed the situation.
Ms Omar serves as the representative for Minnesota’s fifth congressional district.
A number of Jewish groups noted that accusations of disloyalty have long been made against Jews, including in Europe during the 1930s. Ann Lewis and Mark Mellman of Democratic Majority for Israel called it “one of the most dangerous, deadly accusations Jews have faced over the years. False charges of disloyalty over the centuries have led to Jews being murdered, jailed and tortured.”
A number of other groups also denounced the remarks. “At a time when antisemitic incidents have increased – due to the president’s emboldening of white nationalism – Trump is repeating an antisemitic trope,” said Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America.
Logan Bayroff of the liberal J Street pro-Israel group said it was “no surprise that the president’s racist, disingenuous attacks on progressive women of colour in congress have now transitioned into smears against Jews.”
However, the Republican Jewish Coalition argued that Mr Trump was speaking about people being disloyal to themselves rather than to Israel. “President Trump is right, it shows a great deal of disloyalty to oneself to defend a party that protects/emboldens people that hate you for your religion,” the group said in a tweet.
Earlier this year, Ms Omar was criticised by members of both parties for saying that she wanted to discuss “the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country”.
Mr Root’s unfounded claim Mr Trump is the best president “in history” for Israel was further undermined by his assertion Jews in the country love him “like the second coming”, which has no basis in Judaism, and is in fact a Christian and Islamic belief about the future return of Jesus.
The radio host, who has variously described himself as a Jew and an evangelical Christian, has a history of promoting conspiracy theories, including that former president Barack Obama was born outside the US and that all liberals are gay.
He even once claimed during a federal investigation into Mr Trump’s links to Russia that special counsel Robert Mueller led the probe because he was motivated by “penis envy” against the president.