Davis office rally

Linda Yoakum, left, an aide to U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, speaks with Marci Adelston-Schafer of Bend the Arc CU on Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, outside the Republican congressman's office in Champaign.

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CHAMPAIGN — A progressive Jewish organization rallied outside U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis’ office Friday to demand that the Taylorville Republican speak out about the president’s statement that Jews who vote for Democrats are disloyal to the country. Later, Davis did, through a spokesman.

Main speaker Diane Ore of Champaign said the group Bend the Arc asked Davis to denounce Donald Trump for the statement that says such voting “shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

“Well, I’m a proud Jew, and here’s what I know,” said Ore, the chairwoman of Bend the Arc CU. “Claiming Jews are disloyal — that we are not full Americans — is a centuries-old anti-Semitic trope designed to isolate and endanger Jewish people.”

Hours later, Davis’ spokeswoman Ashley Phelps responded to the protesters.

“Congressman Davis has urged the president to tone down the rhetoric, tweet less and govern more,” she said. “At the same time, this is the same group who organized a protest outside our Open Government Night, where one person had a sign that mocked the congressman being shot at, and inside many shouted that they agree with Bernie Sanders that Republican policies kill people. Congressman Davis continues to encourage both sides to tone down the rhetoric.”

A dozen demonstrators were at the noon rally speaking out about the president’s words.

“In my opinion, you vote for a Democrat, you’re being very disloyal to Jewish people, and you’re being very disloyal to Israel,” Trump told reporters in a different statement Wednesday, “and only weak people would say anything other than that.”

Ore said she’s concerned that repeating such comments motivates mass shootings.

“Beginning with Charlottesville, when Donald Trump said there were very fine people on both sides, Rodney Davis kept silent,” she said.

She said Davis should speak out about Trump, “not for his tweeting practice, but for making our democratic home feel more like Nazi Germany than the United States of America, to which we have always pledged and will always pledge our allegiance, regardless of its leadership.”

“We demand that you support common-sense gun laws that will remove the murder weapons from the hands of our assailants,” she added.

She said that Jews in his district deserve all the rights of his constituents.

Bend The Arc member Terry Maher agreed with Ore that white nationalists are a particular concern.

Anti-Semitism “has been going on since Biblical times. White nationalists are part of this history, and the danger is all over the country, including here," Maher said.

As an example, she referred to an outdoor menorah statue on the University of Illinois campus that was vandalized three times in 10 months in recent years.

“This isn’t hijinks,” Maher said.