Rabbi Hier Defends Trump’s Refusal to Condemn Anti-Semitism at Media Events

Rabbi Marvin Hier, Founder and Deal of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, on Friday defended President Donald Trump in wake of his refusal to acknowledge and address the rise of anti-Semitic incidents since his election.

“Of course, the President should speak out against anti-Semitism. But we shouldn’t select the venue for him,” Rabbi Hier said in an interview with CNN’s John Berman. 

On Thursday, the President berated a Jewish reporter for asking him to address concerns in the Jewish American community of the uptick in anti-Semitic incidents and bomb threats against Jewish centers across the U.S. A day earlier, during a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump boasted about his Electoral College victory and reminded the media that his son-in-law Jared Kushner, daughter Ivanka, three grandchildren and many friends are Jewish in response to an Israeli reporter’s question about anti-Semitism.

Jewish American groups blasted Trump’s response. “On two separate occasions over the past two days, President Trump has refused to say what he is going to do about rising anti-Semitism or to even condemn it,” Anti-Defamation League’s Marvin Nathan and Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “It is mind-boggling why President Trump prefers to shout down a reporter or brush this off as a political distraction.”

But according to Rabbi Hier, who offered a prayer at the President’s inauguration last month, Trump should not be forced to address the issue in an uncomfortable manner. “Maybe we should say to the president at a time that he’s comfortable in the very near future,” Hier suggested in his interview with CNN, “he should address Anti-Semitism and bigotry. But let’s be very clear, Anti-Semitism and bigotry preceded President Trump.”

Meanwhile, Malcolm Hoenlein, speaking at a press conference to kick off the Conference of Presidents’ annual Israel mission in Jerusalem, urged Trump to speak out more forcefully and confront a surge of anti-Semitism. “I think the president should help set the tone for country,” Hoenlein said. “I’m hopeful that what he said about addressing hate and racism of all types will be translated into clear action.”

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