Having come under pressure to address an uptick in incidents targeting Jewish institutions across the US, President Trump denounced anti-Semitism Tuesday when during a tour of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture he said that “Anti-Semitism is horrible and it’s going to stop and it has to stop.".
Trump: Anti-Semitic incidents are "horrible and painful" https://t.co/QmRTDXgq5E— Daniella Diaz (@DaniellaMicaela) February 21, 2017
Further, the president insisted he has spoken out against anti-Semitism “whenever I get a chance.”
Trump on denouncing anti-Semitic attacks: "I do it wherever I get a chance." https://t.co/uJSL7I6CAS— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 21, 2017
The comments come one day after a wave of bomb threats caused 11 Jewish Community Centers to temporarily close. Vandals destroyed about 100 headstones at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, and Jewish Community Centers in several U.S. cities received a number of bomb threats that were later determined to be hoaxes. The terrorizing phone calls have targeted 54 community centers in 27 states this year alone. Federal investigators are looking into the source of the threats.
Jewish groups have been frustrated by what they say is Trump’s lackluster response to the incidents. Last week, Trump prompted an aggressive media to question his determination to fight anti-semitism after he told a Jewish reporter, who asked him a question about the incidents by telling him to "sit down" and accusing the reporter of misleading him. The president insisted he is “the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life.” Jonathan Greenblatt, the national director and CEO called Trump’s response “mind-boggling” and “shocking.”
"The issue of anti-Semitism is not a political one,” he wrote last week in The Washington Post. “But it is potentially lethal. With the president’s leadership, it can get better. With his neglect or instigation, it can get worse.” The White House also stirred controversy in January by releasing a statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day that didn't mention the Nazis' focus on exterminating Jews. Top Trump officials later defended the decision.
Following mounting criticism, Trump’s team has begun to address the problem in recent days. Ivanka Trump on Monday called for “religious tolerance” after Jewish community centers received the phoned-in bomb threats. “Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country that was founded on the promise of individual freedom,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told NBC News on Monday.
While the White House released a statement on Monday condemning the bomb threats, saying that "hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom", some, including Hillary Clinton, pressured Trump to personally speak out against the attacks.