President Donald Trump Responds to Anti-Semitic Incidents

February 21st 2017

Mike Rothschild

After his visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture Tuesday, President Donald Trump finally addressed the rash of recent bomb threats on Jewish Community Centers (JCC) across the country.

However, Trump's response did little to assuage Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center in New York and a frequent critic of what he perceives as the administration's antipathy toward American Jews.

"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," Trump said during a wide-ranging speech Tuesday where he praised Martin Luther King, Jr., talked up Ben Carson's nomination for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and touted the size of his win in South Carolina.

After the speech, Trump told MSNBC that "anti-Semitism is horrible and it's going to stop and it has to stop."

Following Trump's comments, Goldstein released a statement on the Anne Frank Center's Facebook page Tuesday that called Trump's remarks "a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own Administration," and decried his words as "a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting Antisemitism." It also pointed out that another wave of bomb threats happened on President's Day, and Trump said nothing about it.

The Trump administration has struggled to formulate a response to the rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes after Trump's election - in particular to the waves of bomb threats plaguing JCC and Jewish temples, with nearly 50 evacuations everywhere from the upper Midwest to the Deep South.

On Sunday, the Jewish Community Centers(JCC) Association of North America reported in a release that there have been "three waves of bomb threats in January (Jan. 9, Jan. 18, and Jan. 31), resulting in, through today, 69 incidents at 54 JCCs in 27 states and one Canadian province in total. All bomb threats in both January and today have proven to be hoaxes, and all JCCs impacted have returned to regular operations."

"When President Trump responds to Antisemitism proactively and in real time, and without pleas and pressure," the Goldstein wrote, "that’s when we’ll be able to say this President has turned a corner. This is not that moment.”

During a visit with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump was asked to denounce anti-Semitism and reassure American Jews that he supported them. He responded by bragging about the size of his electoral victory, and pointing out that his son-in-law is Jewish.

The next day, Trump shouted down a reporter for an Orthodox Jewish paper in Brooklyn, New York, who asked him what the administration intended to do about the bomb threats and hate crime uptick.

Beyond that, Trump has also been criticized for not specifically mentioning the Jewish people in the administration's statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day, and for giving former Breitbart editor and "alt-right" figurehead Stephen Bannon a position as a chief advisor.

While Trump might see the matter as settled, the wave of anti-Semitic attacks shows no sign of abating, with over 100 headstones knocked over or vandalized Monday at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri - an action local police are investigating as a hate crime.