GOP congressman accidentally compares Trump’s rhetoric to Hitler

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) said Trump must like Jews because he has Jewish children and grandchildren.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) does not think President Donald Trump is an anti-Semite, even though he thinks his rhetoric is similar to Adolf Hitler's.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) does not think President Donald Trump is an anti-Semite, even though he thinks his rhetoric is similar to Adolf Hitler's. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), one of just two Jewish Republicans in Congress and a staunch defender of Donald Trump, insisted on Thursday that the president is not an anti-Semite, his repeated anti-Semitic comments this week notwithstanding.

In his attempt to explain away Trump’s claim that Jews who do not back him are “disloyal” however, Zeldin accidentally compared the president to Adolf Hitler.

Zeldin was asked on Fox News whether he shares Trump’s view that “[if] you vote for a Democrat, you are being disloyal to Jewish people, and you’re being very disloyal to Israel.” About three-quarters of Jewish Americans voted against Trump in the 2016 election and Democratic candidates received an even higher share of the vote in 2018.

Zeldin responded by praising Trump — who has made an array of anti-Semitic comments, defended neo-Nazis as “very fine people,” and employed people like Steve Bannon and Seb Gorka — as an ally of the Jewish community. He reasoned that although the president’s latest statement is actually a hugely offensive trope, Trump shouldn’t be condemned for it because he has Jewish relatives.


“There is a long history with regards to that term — “loyalty” or “disloyalty,” Zeldin answered, “where others with bad intent, with hatred towards Israel and the Jews, going all the way back to whether it’s Adolf Hitler, to what we’re seeing right now in other ways manifested from [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] supporters Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) in the House of Representatives, there has been an issue with the use of that word.” (Zeldin has repeatedly criticized both congresswomen, accusing them of backing anti-Semitic causes. Meanwhile, he hosted 2018 reelection fundraisers with both Bannon and Gorka.)

“The president, who I said, is approaching this from a very different standpoint, he chose to use a word that I wouldn’t use in a particular context. He’s being accused of anti-Semitism, which is just so not true, when the definition of anti-Semitism requires a hatred towards Jews, and he has shown that he has none of it. Literally his son-in-law, his daughter, his grandchildren are Jewish.”

Hitler reportedly had Jewish relatives as well. And while Godwin’s Law has discouraged online commentators from comparing opponents to the genocidal Nazi Führer, Zeldin is the rare politician to liken someone’s comments to Hitler’s in their defense.