Donald Trump’s Jewish confidant and advisor says the Jewish community cannot expect the presumptive Republican presidential nominee to immediately condemn and denounce anti-Semitism as it occurs because Jews are not the only community in the United States.
“He condemned David Duke,” Jason Greenblatt said in an interview with the Jewish Press published on Thursday. “Did he condemn him the second everyone wanted him to condemn him? Our community has this sort of focus that we want something done a certain way; we want it done right away. We’re not the only people in the country.”
Referring to Jewish criticism leveled at Trump for what is perceived as a tepid denouncement of anti-Semitic supporters, Greenblatt insisted Trump has already issued a statement denouncing David Duke’s endorsement and condemning anti-Semitism in general.
“Anti-Semitism has no place our society, which needs to be united, not divided,” Trump said in a laconic statement to the New York Times in May.
“He spoke to The New York Times, condemned Duke’s remarks, said very clearly anti-Semitism has no place in society,” Greenblatt asserted in the interview with the Jewish Press, an online publication. “I think his broad condemnation of anti-Semitism is even stronger than had he merely condemned irrelevant Twitter trolls.”
“I know that there’s been a lot of discourse in the Jewish community about how he hasn’t gone far enough to condemn some of his followers who are anti-Semitic. I think that’s very unfair criticism,” he added.
Trump has come under fire for a weekend tweet that was deemed anti-Semitic. A meme tweeted by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s account had a montage of Hillary Clinton with a Star of David inscribed and a pile of money in the background. The tweet was soon deleted and reposted, this time with a circle in the star’s place. Trump, speaking at a campaign rally in Cincinnati, Ohio on Wednesday, suggested that his campaign shouldn’t have deleted the star meme in the first place because it’s “just a star” and those who think otherwise are “sick people.”
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told BuzzFeed News on Wednesday that it was “perplexing” that Trump’s campaign appears to be sourcing images from white nationalist sources. “I wish he would bring the same firmness to his rejection of anti-Semites and racists as he brings to members of the media and other candidates,” Greenblatt was quoted as saying. “I don’t understand why he’s courting the white nationalist vote.”
But according to Trump’s advisor, Jason Greenblatt, “People need to look at the whole campaign story and not a particular story, biased or unbiased, in a particular newspaper on a particular day.” Adding, “Having worked here for twenty years as a frum person, I can tell you that Donald has been enormously respectful of my being Shomer Shabbos. He has bent over backward to help me succeed in the company despite my being Shomer Shabbos.”
In an interview to a local Ohio TV station on Wednesday Trump said that he resolved the issue of the star tweet. “I think that problem now frankly has been very much resolved to my way because when you take a star — when you take a star, it could’ve been a sheriff’s star, it could’ve been anything,” Trump told WKRC.
The Hillary Clinton campaign blasted Trump and his advisors for refusing to apologize. “It’s unacceptable that Donald Trump and his campaign refuses to apologize and continues to make excuses for the use of a blatantly anti-Semitic image from racist websites,” Sarah Bard, Clinton’s director of Jewish outreach, said in a statement to Jewish Insider. “Trump should be condemning hate, not offering more campaign behavior and rhetoric that engages extremists. The president should be someone who brings Americans together, not someone who sends signals and offers policies of division.”
“When it comes to anti-Semitism – whether it’s a David Duke endorsement or a tweet using anti-Semitic imagery – the community rightfully expects that it’s condemned right away,” Aaron Keyak, a Democratic consultant, told Jewish Insider. “But Greenblatt has his worked cut out for him. He has a candidate who doubles down on his use of anti-Semitic imagery and continues to ignore the pleas of groups like the ADL to be stronger and quicker in condemning anti-Semitism.”
ADL’s Greenblatt did not immediately return a request for comment.
UPDATE: In an email to Jewish Insider, Jason Greenblatt clarified that his statement “made no reference to religion or to Jewish people being a minority, nor did any of my other statements.”
“Obviously, each community wants its concerns to be addressed immediately,” said Greenblatt. “But with the volume of issues we face across so many diverse communities in this country, one cannot respond to each group’s issue instantaneously. So obviously, some will always feel that a response should be made more quickly than possible.”
Note: An earlier version of this post implied that Greenblatt was referring to the Jewish community as a religious minority in the U.S. The post has been updated to include Greenblatt’s clarification.