President Trump on Tuesday called one Muslim congresswoman “violent and vicious” and said Jewish voters show “great disloyalty” to their cause by backing Democrats.
Mr. Trump also firmly rejected trimming U.S. foreign aid to Israel, mocking the call by Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, who were denied entry to Israel last week.
“Cutting off aid to Israel because of two people that hate Israel and hate Jewish people — I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation,” the president told reporters in the Oval Office.
He added: “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”
He also mocked Ms. Tlaib for tearing up in a Monday press conference when she talked about her grandmother, a Palestinian who still lives in the region.
“Tlaib with the tears, all of the sudden,” the president said, adding, “I don’t buy it. I don’t buy it for a second.”
Israel had offered Ms. Tlaib permission to enter to visit her family, as long as she didn’t pursue any political agenda. She rejected that offer, saying she wouldn’t visit her grandmother until she could do it on her own terms.
She said going under Israel’s limited invitation meant she would “be caged and bow down” to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demands.
Mr. Trump said he doubted the sincerity of Ms. Tlaib’s emotions because of her reported behavior at a Trump campaign rally during the 2016 election, before Ms. Tlaib was elected to Congress.
“I saw a woman that was violent and vicious and out of control,” the president said.
Mr. Trump cheered last week when Mr. Netanyahu barred Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Omar, both Muslims, from a trip Israeli officials said was designed to bolster the “Boycott, Divest, Sanctions” movement against Israel, which is grounds under Israeli law to deny entry to foreigners.
The congresswomen held a press conference Monday to denounce the U.S. president, saying he was enabling “occupation” of Palestinian territory by Israel. They also said they believed it was Mr. Trump who directed Israel to bar their trip.
Nonsense, Mr. Trump said.
“That’s a decision of Israel. They can let them in if they want, but I don’t think they want to,” he said.
Some liberal activists had called on other members of Congress to boycott Israel until it relents and lets the two congresswomen enter on their own terms.
Ms. Omar rejected that idea Monday, saying she was counting on other lawmakers to make the trip to Israel and see for themselves the situation involving Palestinians.
She did say, though, that Congress should consider docking Israel’s foreign aid allotment.
“We must be asking, as Israel’s ally, that Netanyahu stop the expansion of settlements on Palestinian land and ensure full rights for Palestinians if we are to give them aid,” Ms. Omar said.
Mr. Trump, who generally wants to see America’s foreign aid budget trimmed, said Israel’s money isn’t on the chopping block.
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