WASHINGTON (JTA) — Donald Trump said he would test would-be immigrants for anti-Semitic beliefs and that Israel would be a key ally in defeating radical Islam.
Speaking Monday in Youngstown, Ohio, the Republican presidential nominee outlined national security policies that included “extreme vetting” for would-be immigrants, including for those who would reject what he described as American values of tolerance.
“We should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people,” Trump said.
Explaining why he favored such a policy, he cited the French experience as an example.
“Beyond terrorism, as we have seen in France, foreign populations have brought their anti-Semitic attitudes with them,” he said.
It’s not clear which “foreign populations” he was referring to, although from the broader context of his comments, targeting “radical Islam,” it appears he was speaking of Muslims from North Africa. Anti-Semitism existed and at times thrived in France for centuries before its recent waves of immigrants, although recent high-profile attacks on Jews have been carried out by French Muslim extremists.
Trump also said Israel would be key in an alliance to face down the spread of radical Islam.
“As president, I will call for an international conference focused on this goal,” he said. “We will work side by side with our friends in the Middle East, including our greatest ally, Israel.”
Much of Trump’s targeting of would-be immigrants focused on attributes he has associated with Islam.
“In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles – or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law,” he said, referring to the Muslim religious canon.
The Anti-Defamation League immediately took to Twitter to express concerns about Trump’s reiterated call to ban Muslim entry and entry from countries subject to violence.
“Refugees from Syria, Iraq, etc. are fleeing the same terror we fear,” the ADL said. “Suspending immigration would only trap those who need refuge most.”
Also speaking out was HIAS, the lead Jewish group advocating for immigrants and refugees.
“For the American Jewish community, the thought of barring a refugee family because of their religion or home country is simply unpalatable,” Melanie Nezer, the group’s vice president, said in a statement.
Trump dedicated a chunk of his speech to decrying what he described as a decline in American security under President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee who was secretary of state in Obama’s first term. He referred to the nuclear rollback for sanctions relief deal with Iran.
“The nuclear deal puts Iran, the No. 1 state sponsor of radical Islamic terrorism, on a path to nuclear weapons,” he said. “In short, the Obama-Clinton foreign policy has unleashed ISIS, destabilized the Middle East and put the nation of Iran – which chants
‘Death to America’ – in a dominant position.”
In an almost simultaneous appearance with Clinton in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Vice President Joe Biden also invoked Israel in attacking Trump’s national security policies.
Biden noted Trump’s claim last week that Obama had founded ISIS, the Islamic State terrorist group. Trump doubled down on the claim for days before claiming he was being sarcastic.
“The leader of Hezbollah, a direct threat to our ally Israel, repeated that claim,” Biden said.