“The President’s sudden acknowledgment is a Band-Aid on the cancer of anti-Semitism that has infected his own Administration.”– Anne Frank Center
By Doug Porter
For the second time this month, The Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center in La Jolla was evacuated in response to a bomb threat this morning. San Diego Police searched the facility following a 6am phone call.
On Monday there were 11 new bomb threats against Jewish community centers, from New York to New Mexico. Over the weekend, vandals toppled and damaged as many as 200 headstones at a St. Louis-area Jewish cemetery.
Prior to Tuesday morning’s threat, the Jewish Community Center (JCC) Association of North America has documented 69 incidents at 54 centers in 27 U.S. states and one Canadian province since the start of 2017.
The White House sent out a Deputy Press Secretary on Monday who condemned “hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind,” but made no reference to anti-Semitism.
Following numerous appeals by faith leaders and press inquiries, President Donald Trump finally spoke on Tuesday about a recent rash of anti-Semitic threats and attacks in the U.S., telling NBC: “Anti-Semitism is horrible, and it’s going to stop.”
Can you imagine if Muslim extremists attacked dozens of churches and the only thing the President said was “this is horrible, has to stop”!?
— Samuel Sinyangwe (@samswey) February 21, 2017
The President’s latest statement didn’t strike some as sincere or forceful enough. The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect issued headlined “Mr. President, Your Too Little, Too Late Acknowledgement of #Antisemitism is Not Enough:”
Statement of Steven Goldstein, Executive Director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, on President Trump’s acknowledgment of anti-Semitism today:
“The President’s sudden acknowledgment is a Band-Aid on the cancer of anti-Semitism that has infected his own 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.
Make no mistake: The anti-Semitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration. The White House repeatedly refused to mention Jews in its Holocaust remembrance, and had the audacity to take offense when the world pointed out the ramifications of Holocaust denial. And it was only yesterday, President’s Day, that Jewish Community Centers across the nation received bomb threats, and the President said absolutely nothing.
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.”
A Safe Space for Hatred
The President’s record on the subject and his open embrace of individuals with questionable connections certainly gives plenty of reasons to be suspicious.
Last May, a CNN interviewer asked Trump about anti-semitic remarks made to journalist Julia Ioffe after she wrote a profile of his wife, Melania, in GQ.
From Right Wing Watch:
Ioffe, who is Jewish, received calls from “people playing Hitler speeches” and was told that she “should be burned in an oven, told she should be shot in the head, received a call inquiring about overnight casket delivery, and sent Photoshopped images of her in a concentration camp uniform…”
…When Blitzer asked him if he would condemn the “anti-Semitic death threats” from his fans, Trump said he wouldn’t condemn them. “I don’t have a message to the fans,” he said, before once again criticizing Ioffe about an article that he never read.
Coincidentally, on the same day that Trump said he wouldn’t condemn his fans for hurling anti-Semitic threats at a journalist, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke hailed Trump as a “white knight” for his white nationalist cause, saying that it is now up to his fellow white nationalists to “give Trump the space” to eventually begin attacking the “Jewish supremacists” who Duke believes control American society.
Then there was the Orthodox Jewish reporter who raised the topic during a news conference and was quickly shut down.
From Mark Sumner at Daily Kos:
It’s not true that Trump hasn’t talked about anti-Semitism. Donald Trump made a lengthy statement on anti-Semitism just last week. That statement was sit down and shut up.
When President Trump called on him at a news conference on Thursday, saying he was looking for a “friendly reporter,” Mr. Turx was prepared. He had spent an hour crafting a question about a recent surge of anti-Semitism, with a preamble that he hoped would convey his supportive disposition toward Mr. Trump. …
“Sit down,” the president commanded. “I understand the rest of your question.”
Trump’s response to questions of anti-Semitism are the same as his response to everything else: I won. I’m the best. Next question. And it’s easy to understand Trump’s silence—he doesn’t want to upset his voters.
The local Fox anchor is complaining on Twitter that people are too hastily concluding Jewish cemetery desecration is anti-Semitic.
— Sarah Brodsky (@sarahbrodsky) February 21, 2017
The Bigger Picture
From the Huffington Post:
“It is an intense climate right now between the spike in hate incidents post-election and the series of bomb threats targeting the Jewish community over the past couple weeks,” a spokesman for the Anti-Defamation League told HuffPost. “The frequency and scale of this is at a level right now that’s higher than we’ve seen in a long time.”
The far-right has become emboldened under Trump, and while the number of Americans who directly support hardened hate groups remains far lower than in earlier decades, the number of hate groups in America is rising, according to a recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate and extremism around the nation.
Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at SPLC, said that this series of bomb threats since the new year is “unprecedented.”
“I’ve been working at SPLC since 1999. I’ve never seen a string of attacks like this that are targeting the same kind of institution in the same kind of way. This is new,” Beirich said.
It doesn’t help matters that the Trump administration has eliminated right-wing extremism as one of the violent ideologies targeted by a government program aimed at deterring groups or potential lone attackers through community partnerships.
Some Republicans in Congress have long assailed the program as politically correct and ineffective, asserting that singling out and using the term “radical Islam” as the trigger for many violent attacks would help focus deterrence efforts.
Gosh, maybe the President just needs to say “radical anti-Semitism”…
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