Trump: Israel ‘literally owned Congress’ a decade ago until ‘Squad’ elected

Rashida Tlaib and Ilahn Omar

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  November 2, 2021

Anti-Defamation League accuses former president of antisemitism after remarks during radio interview.

A decade ago, Israel “literally owned Congress” and was “so powerful”, but that changed after members of the Squad were elected in 2018, former US President Donald Trump said in an interview on Monday.

“[Israel] was so powerful and today it’s almost the opposite. You have between AOC and Omar, these people that hate Israel,” Trump told Ari Hoffman, a Seattle-based radio talk show host, referring to representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar.

“They hate it with a passion. They are controlling Congress and Israel is not a force in Congress anymore. It’s just amazing.” 

Trump’s comments come just weeks after a contentious debate among Democrats in the House of Representatives over US funding of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system. 

Funding for the system was removed from a US government emergency spending bill after progressive party members, who object to condition-free US support for Israel, criticized its inclusion.

But days later, the Democratic leadership in the House pushed forward a standalone bill to provide $1bn for Iron Dome which passed overwhelmingly with 420 to nine votes.

Omar was one of the nine representatives who voted against the standalone bill while Ocasio-Cortez cried as she switched her vote from “no” to “present”, a move heavily criticized by many of her supporters.

Trump’s comments drew criticism from the Anti-Defamation League which tweeted that Israel “does not control Congress” and that Trump’s remarks played into antisemitic tropes about Jewish control of government and were “unacceptable”.

Anti-semitism accusations

In 2019, Omar was accused of antisemitism after she suggested that support for Israel was driven by the financial and political power of the pro-Israel lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). 

She later apologized after critics accused her of using an antisemitic trope that could have been seen as Jews using money to control society, although commentators told Middle East Eye at the time that the point she was making was spot on.

Some observers said on Tuesday that Trump – who has been repeatedly accused of antisemitism – had been let off lightly.

Lara Friedman, president of the Washington, DC-based Foundation for Middle East Peace, tweeted: “So saying something like this to attack Dems as anti-Israel is fine, right? But just imagine the shrieks of rage if same words were spoken by [a] member of the Squad.”