After urging from many — including his former presidential rival — President Trump denounced anti-Semitism Tuesday morning.
“This tour was a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms,” said Trump in a statement at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. “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 must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.”
Earlier that day, Hillary Clinton had joined the chorus urging Trump to denounce the threats.
Not long after Clinton’s posted her call to Trump, MSNBC aired an interview in which Trump called for an end to the anti-Semitic attacks. “I will tell you that anti-Semitism is horrible,” Trump said.
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Clinton has occasionally needled Trump via social media since his inauguration, supporting the women’s march, stating that the president’s travel ban was “not who we are,” taunting the appeals court loss and making a “fake news” joke after the ousting of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
On Monday, at least 11 Jewish community centers were evacuated after bomb threats, bringing the total number of centers that have been threatened since Trump’s election to 54. In addition to the bomb threats, more than 100 headstones were recently desecrated at a historic Jewish cemetery near St. Louis.
Ivanka Trump, who converted to Judaism when she married Jared Kushner, denounced the attacks via Twitter:
America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers. #JCC
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) February 20, 2017
When asked by MSNBC whether he was directly denouncing anti-Semitism, Trump said, “Of course — I do it whenever I get a chance I do it.”
Trump had neglected the opportunity during two press conferences last week.
In a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump was asked, “I wonder what do you say to those among the Jewish community around the United States, and in Israel, and maybe around the world who believe and feel your administration is playing with xenophobia and maybe racist tones?” Trump’s initial reply was to cite his margin of victory and the fact he had a daughter, son-in-law, three grandchildren and friends who are all Jewish.
And at a separate Thursday press conference, Trump was pressed about why his administration had yet to denounce the anti-Semitic attacks. Trump said that the question wasn’t fair, and ordered Jake Turx — who writes for the Orthodox Jewish publication Ami Magazine — to sit down. The president also told Turx that he was the least anti-Semitic and least racist person he would ever meet.
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