I was going to call one of the smartest people I know, the well-known Jewish Democratic Sen. Benjamin Cardin, of Maryland, to find out why the Democrats suddenly hate the Jews.
But then I realized the question was too flippant to ask, even if President Donald Trump claims it’s true. In the wake of this president’s latest contribution to the American melting pot, he gives us words that are not only historically ignorant but divisive and stupid as well.
“The Democrats have become an anti-Israel party and an anti-Jewish Party,” said this president.
This is the same president who found “good people” on both sides of the battle in Charlottesville. He’s the same one who tweeted a campaign image of Hillary Clinton with the words, “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever” next to a Star of David. He’s the same one who … ah, you know the litany by now.
But it’s the Democrats who hate the Jews, huh?
So then I thought maybe I’d call some other Jewish Democrats on Capitol Hill. There are plenty of them. There are 26 Jewish Democrats in the House of Representatives. There are two Jewish Republicans.
In the U.S. Senate, there are eight Jewish Democrats. Well, nine, if you count the nominally Independent Bernie Sanders. And no Jewish Republican senators, no matter how you count it.
Trump’s comments were prompted by the painful remarks of Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who, in the course of criticizing Israeli policies pulled out some old, fraudulent stereotypes about Jews and money. Omar is a Democrat. In Trump’s telling, this makes her the new symbol of the entire Democratic Party.
But Trump had one more crutch to lean on – the response to Omar’s remarks, which became a broad anti-hate resolution instead of a pointed condemnation of Omar and anti-Semitism specifically. Every Democrat voted for the resolution. But 23 Republicans voted against this condemnation of bigotry, for reasons they will have to explain.
As for Jews and Democrats generally, let the record show the following: You can go back to 1920 before you find a Republican candidate winning the Jewish vote. In modern times, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry all won at least 69 percent of the Jewish vote. Hillary Clinton won 71 percent, against Trump’s 24 percent.
And in the last mid-term election, just months ago, exit polls indicate Democratic candidates took 79 percent of the Jewish vote.
If the Democratic Party hates the Jews so much, why do the Jews keep voting for them? Is Donald Trump saying the Jews are stupid? Self-hating? Or is he just echoing his remarks on Charlottesville, that there are good people on both sides of the aisle – except for the Democrats?
A former Baltimore Sun columnist and WJZ-TV commentator, Michael Olesker is the author of six books. His most recent, “Front Stoops in the Fifties: Baltimore Legends Come of Age,” was reissued in paperback by the Johns Hopkins University Press.