Jewish leaders in Kansas and Missouri on Monday criticized former President Donald Trump for comments he made on social media that attacked “liberal Jews” and accused those who voted against him of voting to “destroy” the country.
Trump posted the message on the last day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. Despite an onslaught of criticism, the post remained online Monday afternoon.
“Just a quick reminder for liberal Jews who voted to destroy America & Israel because you believed false narratives! Let’s hope you learned from your mistake and make better choices moving forward!” Trump said Sunday on Truth Social, the social media site he owns.
He followed it with a list of things he said his administration did to help the Jewish community, including moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“Wake Up Sheep. What Natzi/Anti Semite ever did this for the Jewish people or Israel?” the post said.
Rabbi Doug Alpert of Congregation Kol Ami in Kansas City excoriated the former president as antisemitic in a phone interview.
“He’s an antisemite,” he said. “I would describe him as a neo-Nazi sympathizer and he will court anybody who will say he’s wonderful or vote for him.”
Alpert said Trump’s comments about views on Israel were disingenuous at best and not related to any policy decisions. However, he said he fears that Trump’s comments could lead to some violent responses from his supporters.
“He’s still feeding that monster and that concerns me,” he said.
In response to Trump’s post, the American Jewish Committee, one of the oldest Jewish advocacy groups in the nation, posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the claim Jews who did not vote for Trump had voted to destroy America was “deeply offensive.” The organization urged political candidates to avoid such rhetoric.
In a statement Gavriela Geller, the executive director of the AJC’s Kansas City affiliate, the Jewish Community Relations Bureau, said Trump’s statement was “an utterly inappropriate and highly offensive way of engaging with the Jewish community on one of our holiest days in the year.”
“To use the holiday of Rosh Hashanah as an excuse to spread rhetoric that seeks to divide and blame the Jewish community is disrespectful and completely unwelcome. This kind of speech is dangerous, divisive, and offensive, and must continue to be called out,” Geller said.
Trump’s post followed a longstanding pattern of the former president attacking Jews who do not agree with him and embracing antisemitic individuals and movements.
Rabbi Mark Levin, a founder of Congregation Beth Torah in Overland Park, said that he did not view Trump’s statement as antisemetic but that it incorrectly suggested the entire American Jewish population owed the former president their votes.
While Trump did things in office that some Jewish people supported, Levin said, he believed Trump’s actions to undermine the Constitution and court system following the 2022 election and refusal to condemn antisemetic actions posed a larger threat to the freedoms of Jewish Americans.
He pointed toward Trump’s refusal to condemn the “Unite the Right” protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, and his willingness to meet with Kanye West and embrace antisemitic elements of the far right.
“He’s a much greater threat than the few things he did that might appeal to some elements of the Jewish community,” Levin said.
“I hope that people will look very clearly not just at political statements but at who is supporting … the following of the Constitution of the United States because that is what protects Jewish existence.”