US President Donald Trump delivers a State of the Union address at the Capitol in Washington, DC, Feb. 5, 2019. Photo: Doug Mills / Pool via Reuters.

President Donald Trump’s annual State of the Union address on Tuesday drew a wide range of responses from American Jewish groups.

The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) praised Trump’s speech, which featured several noteworthy Jewish-related moments, and accused Democrats of using their guest invitations to “highlight radical positions their base wants to hear, but which are out of step with mainstream America on things like transgender issues, climate change activism, ‘open borders’ immigration reforms, gun control, and the ‘resistance.’”

“The State of the Union is an opportunity reflect on the freedom we enjoy as Americans and the heavy responsibility our elected leaders bear to defend our freedom. Democratic members of Congress could have focused, as President Trump did, on what unites and strengthens us. Instead they chose to put forward divisiveness and partisanship,” the RJC charged in a statement.

Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) Executive Director Halie Soifer, on the other hand, asserted that Trump had delivered a message “characterized by fear and empty words” at a time “our country is in need of unity and leadership.”

Mark Mellman — the president and CEO of the Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) – was more equivocal, saying Trump’s speech “paid tribute to some of the best of America’s legacy and descended to the worst, deliberately divisive rhetoric.”

“We appreciate the honor paid to combating antisemitism, the Holocaust victims who survive, and the American troops who opened the camps, as well as the courageous police officer who stopped the Tree of Life tragedy,” Mellman stated. “But as usual, this president abused his platform to boast, while pursuing policies that harm working people, damage the environment and endanger our country’s future.”

B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin said, “We are encouraged that the president expressed his support for the longstanding US-Israel alliance and highlighted the 2018 move of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Israel’s rightful capital. We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s hegemonic tendencies in the Middle East and the existential threat it poses to Israel. We welcome the president’s forceful commitment to keep Iran and the threat it poses globally in check.”

“We appreciate the special attention given during the address to the frightening rise of antisemitism in the U.S. with the inclusion of Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting survivors Judah Samet and injured police officer Timothy Matson as special White House guests in the House gallery,” they added.

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) tweeted, “On #SOTU: Thank you @POTUS for your strong condemnation of anti-Semitism and commitment to protecting the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”

The AJC also highlighted the moving gesture of Congress members singing “Happy Birthday” to Samet, who turned 81 on Tuesday.

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