WH: Trump Will Not Tolerate Anti-Semitism
WASHINGTON – During a visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Tuesday, President Donald Trump addressed, at last, the recent spike in anti-Semitism. “The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible, and are painful, and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil,” he said.
In a memo sent to Jewish Insider, the White House insisted that “anti-Semitic threats, attacks, and vandalism will not be tolerated by the Trump administration” and that the recent bomb threats and acts of vandalism will continue to be thoroughly investigated by the FBI and the Department of Justice.
On Monday, 11 Jewish Community Centers (JCC) across the U.S. received bomb threats. Since January, 54 JCCs have been targeted across 27 states. Police in Missouri also reported 100 headstones at Jewish cemeteries damaged or toppled during the past week.
The White House said that despite the perception that Trump has turned a blind eye on an increase in anti-Semitic incidents, “this issue is near and dear to the President’s heart, as a religious man himself and as the father of a Jewish daughter and grandfather of Jewish grandchildren.”
JCCs “serve a critical role in their communities, opening their doors for people of all backgrounds to share in their resources and participate in their activities,” the memo read, reflecting Trump’s remarks earlier in the day.
The President’s first public denunciation was welcomed by Jewish community leaders and Jewish civil rights groups as a positive step that would help soothe concerns among U.S. Jews.
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), wrote on Twitter: “Glad @POTUS stated #antisemitism is horrible. Now need @whitehouse to share plans on how to “stop” it. ADL ready to help”
“I welcome the clear condemnation of anti -Semitism by POTUS,” Abe Foxman, former Director of the ADL and current Director of the Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, told Jewish Insider. “I just wish it had not taken so long to come.”
The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect called Trump’s statement “pathetic” and the acknowledgment as a “band-aid on the cancer of anti-Semitism that has infected” the Administration.
“His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting Anti-Semitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record,” the Center’s Executive Director Steven Goldstein said in a statement. “Make no mistake: The Anti-Semitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration… When President Trump responds to Anti-Semitism proactively and in real time, and without pleas and pressure, that’s when we’ll be able to say this President has turned a corner. This is not that moment.”
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer lamented the Anne Frank Center for its criticism of Trump’s slow response. “I wish that they had praised the President for his leadership in this area,” Spicer said at the daily press briefing. “The President has made clear since the day he was elected and frankly through the campaign that he seeks to unite the country… Today, I think, was an unbelievably forceful comment by the President as far as his denunciation of the actions that are currently targeted towards Jewish community centers. But I think that he’s been very clear previous to this… I wish that they had praised the President for his leadership in this area.”
Spicer further expressed frustration over repeated criticisms the Administration has faced regarding anti-Semitism. “It’s ironic that, no matter how many times he talks about this, that it’s never good enough,” he emphasized.
Foxman also blasted Goldstein’s response as “inappropriate and politicized.”
“The Anne Frank Center does not speak for me as a survivor or as an American Jew,” said Foxman, who was also critical of Trump’s dealing with the issue.
Last week, the President berated a Jewish reporter for asking him how he planned to address concerns in the Jewish community relating to the uptick in anti-Semitic incidents and bomb threats against Jewish centers across the country. 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 on anti-Semitism.
Trump’s statement on Tuesday came after repeated calls by Jewish community leaders and public officials to speak out and forcefully deal with the issue. On Monday evening, Ivanka Trump noted on Twitter: “America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers #JCC.”
Meanwhile in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, called for a global summit in which world leaders would declare war against anti-Semitism and bigotry.