The reporter asked President Trump about the rise of anti-Semitism in America. His answer — or seeming lack of one — angered many prominent Jewish Americans.
“Donald Trump’s inability to simply condemn antisemitism boggles the mind,” said Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc Jewish Action.
“Rather than acknowledge the rising tide of antisemitism in the United States (driven largely by his embrace of white nationalist staffers, rhetoric, and policies), he opted instead to brag once again about his Electoral College victory.”
At a joint White House press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an Israeli reporter noted the recent spike in anti-Semitism in the U.S., and asked Trump what he had to say to Jews who see Trump’s administration fanning xenophobia.
“We are very honored by the victory that we had: 306 Electoral College votes. We were not supposed to crack 220,” Trump responded. “There is tremendous enthusiasm out there.”
Trump then said he would bring peace to the nation, stop crime, and hopefully heal the divisions in the country. “We are going to do everything within our power to stop long-simmering racism and every other thing that’s going on. There’s a lot of bad things have taken place over a long period of time.”
“As far as people, Jewish people, so many friends. A daughter who happens to be here right now,” Trump continued, gesturing toward his Jewish daughter Ivanka Trump.” He then promised a different United States. “You’re going to see a lot of love.”
Trump’s response bothered Jewish groups already upset by Trump’s seeming disinterest in helping to create a Palestinian state along Israel — a state that majorities of American Jews and Israelis think is necessary to peace in the region.
Trump’s abdication of a two-state solution could “devastate” Israel’s prospects for peace, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the Union for Reform Judaism said in a statement after Trump’s press conference. The URJ represents the largest stream of Judaism in the U.S.
“We also find it extraordinarily troubling,” Jacobs continued, “that both leaders were unresponsive when asked about the recent rise in anti-Semitism. We expect our leadership to provide clear and unequivocal condemnation against all acts and forms of hatred, bigotry, racism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism.”