By RON KAMPEAS
WASHINGTON (JTA) – President Donald Trump promoted on his Twitter feed a group founded by Republicans that hopes to draw young Jews away from the Democratic Party.
“‘Jewish people are leaving the Democratic Party,”” Trump said Tuesday, March 12, on his morning feed, quoting Elizabeth Pipko, a spokeswoman for “Jexodus,” who appeared the same morning on “Fox and Friends” on the Fox News network.
“Jexodus” was launched in February at the Conservative Political Action Conference by Jeff Ballabon, a Republican strategist who advised the Trump presidential campaign. Pipko, 23, is a former Trump campaign staffer. She is also a model and a poet.
In a news release announcing its launch, Jexodus wrote, “We are proud Jewish Millennials tired of living in bondage to leftist politics. We reject the hypocrisy, anti-Americanism, and anti-Semitism of the rising far-left. Progressives, Democrats, and far too many old-school Jewish organizations take our support for granted. After all, we’re Jewish, and Jews vote for Democrats.”
In the tweet he posted shortly after the “Fox and Friends” segment, Trump continued: “‘We saw a lot of anti Israel policies start under the Obama Administration, and it got worsts [sic] and worse. There is anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party. They don’t care about Israel or the Jewish people.’ Elizabeth Pipko, Jexodus.””
Trump’s comments follow a controversy within the Democratic Party sparked by remarks by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., which were seen by Jewish Democrats as invoking anti-Semitic slander. Jewish Democratic leaders in the House led efforts to pass a resolution condemning the kinds of anti-Semitic tropes seen in Omar’s comments, although the resolution eventually was expanded, under pressure from party progressives, to include Islamophobia and other forms of bigotry.
Trump recently said said Democrats were an “anti-Jewish party,” drawing rebukes from leading Democrats, including Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the minority leader in the Senate. The president recently was reported to have told a private gathering of Republican donors that Democrats “hate Jewish people.”
On Tuesday, the Jewish Democratic Council of America posted on Facebook poll data from the last two presidential elections showing a decline in Jewish support for the Republican candidate.
“President Trump – Let’s get the facts straight,” the JDCA posted. “Republicans have lost support among Jewish voters since you’ve been in office.”
On the Jexodus web site, Pipko is described as an “international model, Trump 2016 campaign staffer, poet, patriot, and fiercely proud millennial Jew.”
She and her husband, Darren Centinello, a staffer on the 2020 Trump campaign, were married in December in an Orthodox Jewish ceremony at the Trump-owned Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla. “We invited the president but, unfortunately, it was just before the federal shutdown began,” she told the New York Post last year, in an article about how she felt she had to hide her work for Trump to protect her modeling career. “Our invitations were red hats that read ‘Make Marriage Great Again,’ with a tag hanging off that listed all the wedding information.”
At Monday’s White House press briefing, ABC News reporter Hallie Jackson asked Sanders, “Yes or no: Does the president truly believe the Democrats hate Jews?” Sanders did not comment on the specific question. But she criticized Democrats for passing a resolution condemning anti-Semitism along with other forms of hatred as opposed to specifically condemning anti-Semitism over statements on Israel by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., that many said echoed anti-Semitic stereotypes.
“Democrats have had a number of opportunities to condemn specific comments and have refused to do that,” she said. “They’re unwilling to call this what it is and call it out by name, and take actual action against members who have done things like this.”
In the aftermath of the Omar controversy , Trump has repeatedly suggested that Democrats don’t like Jews. On Friday, March 8. he told reporters that “The Democrats have become an anti-Israel party. They’ve become an anti-Jewish party.” Later that day he reportedly told Republican donors that Democrats “hate” Jews.