Trump denounces ‘horrible’ threats against Jewish centres
U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday denounced recent threats against Jewish community centres as “horrible ... painful” and said more must be done “to root out hate and prejudice and evil.”
Trump’s remarks, made at the newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture, marked the first time he directly addressed recent incidents of anti-Semitism. In recent days, the president has faced growing criticism for not speaking out directly against anti-Jewish threats.
The president cited a tour of the museum as “a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms.”
On Monday, 11 Jewish community centres across the country received phoned-in bomb threats, according to the JCC Association of North America. Like three waves of similar calls in January, Monday’s threats proved to be hoaxes, the association said in a statement. In addition, as many as 200 headstones were damaged or tipped over at a Jewish cemetery in suburban St. Louis late Sunday or early Monday.
“The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centres 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. He did not outline what that might include.
Trump’s comments Tuesday followed a general White House denouncement of “hatred and hate-motivated violence” earlier in the day. That statement did not mention the community centre incidents or Jews. Trump “has made it abundantly clear that these actions are unacceptable,” that statement said.
At a news conference last week, Trump tangled with a reporter from an Orthodox Jewish publication, cutting him off as he asked about a rise in bomb threats against Jewish community centres. Trump, who seemed to interpret the query as an attack on him personally, said it was “not a fair question” and went on to say he was the “least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.”
On Monday, Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump wrote on Twitter, “We must protect our houses of worship & religious centres,” and used the hashtag #JCC. She converted to Judaism ahead of her 2009 marriage to Jared Kushner. She joined her father at the African American museum tour.
Early Tuesday, former presidential rival Hillary Clinton pressured him to clearly denounce recent incidents. “JCC threats, cemetery desecration & online attacks are so troubling & they need to be stopped. Everyone must speak out, starting w/ @POTUS,” she said on Twitter.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in Washington, Tuesday, denouncing threats against Jewish community centres as “horrible.”