Trump Is Right On Palestine: A Two-State Solution Is No Longer Viable – Huffington Post

Just because Trump said it doesnt mean it has to be wrong.

During Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus recent visit to Washington, U.S. President Donald Trump publicly stated that he could support a divergence from a two-state solution in Palestine. He is the first United States president in recent memory to question that sacred article of U.S.-Middle East policy. But while the announcement came as a shock to many, indeed, a serious rethink is long overdue in recognizing the defunct two-state scheme.

Many honorable people have dedicated the bulk of their professional lives to the tedious minutiae and sad diplomatic history of the Palestinian-Israeli morass. Sadly, none of those efforts have brought any resolution whatsoever to a gangrenous issue in many respects one of the major roots of so many of the Middle Easts contemporary ills.

The trouble is that, apart from a few dedicated diplomats and scholars who had hopes of one day truly accomplishing something, the two-state solution in practice is essentially a fraud. Yes, a few wiser Israeli leadersin the past just possibly might have believed in that ideal, but for decades now the two-state scheme has simply been cynically exploited by newer Israeli leaders, especially by Bibi Netanyahu one of the longer-serving and most right-wing prime ministers in Israels history.

Netanyahu has been backed by a formidable and wealthy pro-Zionist cheering section in the U.S. The goal is to conceal their true agenda the ultimate Israeli annexation of all of Palestine. They themselves as hard-line Zionistshave been subtly but systematically torpedoing the two-state solutionbehind the scenes to that end.

None of my observations here on the hoax of the two-state solution are new or original. Many liberal Israeli observers I met while working in the region have been stating the self-evident for years now. But those voices never get heard in the U.S. where it constitutes an unmentionable. But there should be no doubt: the concept of a two-state solution a Palestinian and an Israeli state sharing historical Palestine and living side by side in sovereignty and dignity is dead. It is almost inconceivable that it can now ever be resuscitated: nearly all the operative forces within Israel are systematically working to prevent it from ever coming about.

The harsh reality is that Israel, through a relentless process of creating facts on the ground, is now decades deep into the process of taking over illegally, step-by-step, the totality of Palestine. Israel has scant regard for any international law in this respect, and never has had any. Washington, apart from a few periodic pathetic bleats, has ended up functionally supporting this cynical scheme all the way, perhaps unwilling to confront the painful reality of what is really taking place, along with its dangerous political repercussions at home.

Baz Ratner / Reuters

Israel is extending day by day its control indeed ownership of Palestinian lands through expansion of illegal Jewish settlements and the dispossession of the rightful owners of these Palestinian lands. Put simply, there is little left of Palestinian land out of which ever to fashion a two-state solution.

That leaves us with only one alternative: the one-state solution. Indeed, Israels actions have already created the preconditions that make the one-state solution an unacknowledged but virtual fait accompli.

Honest observers know full well that the mantra of preserving the peace process for the two-state solution is now little more than a cover by hard-line Zionists for full Israeli annexation of Palestinian lands. The sooner we all acknowledge this ugly reality, the better. That will then require Israel, the Palestinians and the world to get on with dealing with the complex challenge of crafting the binational state the one-state solution.

The calculations of some hard-line Zionists who are now largely in control of Israeli state mechanisms are often unyielding.After years on the ground, Ive found that the rationale is more evident with each passing year. It goes something like this:

1) Israel should functionally take over all of Palestinian territory and permit full Jewish settlement therein.

2) Israel should still play the two-state solution game with visiting foreign diplomats to reduce pressure on Israel, to play for time while it quietly establishes the irreversible facts on the ground that shut out any possible viable Palestinian state.

3) Make life harsh enough for Palestinians that, bit by bit, they will grow bitter and weary, give up and go elsewhere, leaving all the land for Zionist settlers.

4) If Palestinians stubbornly resist, predictable periodic military and security crises in Palestine over the longer run will enable Israel to rid Palestine of all Palestinians a gradual process of ethnic cleansing (or restoration of the situation that God wills as they would refer to it) that returns all the land promised by God to the Jews.

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Some liberal Israelis actually do accept the idea of a one-state solution in their own liberal vision of a future Israel one in which Israelis and Palestinians live as equal citizens in a secular, democratic, binational, multicultural state enjoying equal rights, rather than the increasingly religiously dominated state that it is. And the liberal ideal makes sense: the country is already well on the way to becoming bilingual and Hebrew and Arabic are closely-related languages. Both are Semitic peoples with ancient ties to the same land.

The problem is, ardent Zionists dont want a binational Palestinian-Jewish state. They want a Jewish state and demand that the world accept that term. Yet, in todays world isnt the term Jewish state strikingly discordant? Who speaks of an English or French state? The world would freak out if tomorrow Berlin started calling itself the German State. Or Spain a Christian state.So what do we make of a state that is dedicated solely to Jews and Judaism? Such concepts are remnants of 19th century movements that promoted the creation of ethnically and/or religiously pure states. Modern states no longer define themselves on either an ethnic or religious basis.Indeed it was precisely that kind of ugly religious and ethnic nationalism that caused Jews to flee from Eastern Europe in the first place to find their own homeland.

The true historical task of Israel, with the support of the world, is now to begin the challenging work of introducing the range of major reforms that will transform Israel into just such a multi-ethnic and bilingual state of equal citizens enjoying equal rights under secular law. It is not a question of allowing Palestinians into Israel, they are already there and have been for millennia, initially in far greater numbers than Jews. Palestinians now seek full legal equality of treatment under secular law in Israel.

So lets acknowledge the useful truth that Trump has blundered onto. Lets abandon the naive and cynical rhetoric about the two-state solution that will never come about in any just and acceptable form. Half of Israel never believed in it in the first place. It has served only as a facade for building an apartheid Jewish state a term used frequently by some liberal Israeli commentators I have encountered.

Netanyahu and the right-wing Zionists clearly want all of Palestine. But theyre not ready yet to admit it. They want all the land, but without any of its people. But despite Zionist hopes, the Palestinians arent going to abandon their lands. And so the logical outcome of Israels takeover of all of Palestine leads by definition to an ultimate single, binational state.

The challenge to Israelis and Palestinians is huge. It entails a deep Palestinian rethink of their options and their future destiny in a new order, and the need to fight for those democratic rights in a binational state. It involves Israeli evolution away from God-given rights in a state solely for Jews and Judaism that can only be forever oppressive and undemocratic as it now stands. The process will be a slow and difficult one. But it also represents an evolution consonant with emerging contemporary global values.

We expect a democratic multicultural state from Germany and France, or from Britain, Canada and the United States why not from Israel?

Graham E. Fuller is a former senior CIA official and author of numerous books on the Muslim world. His latest book is Breaking Faith: A novel of espionage and an Americans crisis of conscience in Pakistan.A version of this piece first appeared on

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Trump Is Right On Palestine: A Two-State Solution Is No Longer Viable – Huffington Post

Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff: February 23, 2017 – Haaretz

David Magerman confronts boss over Trump support | Ellison clarifies past comments | NORPAC defends Menendez | Sous-Vide Gefilte Fish?

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WOW — Incredible Read: “‘You Have to Stop, Renaissance Executive David Magerman Tells Boss About Trump Support” by Gregory Zuckerman: “David Magerman says he was in his home office in suburban Philadelphia earlier this month when the phone rang. His boss, hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, was on the line.I hear youre going around saying Im a white supremacist, Mr. Mercer said. Thats ridiculous. …Those werent my exact words, Mr. Magerman said he told Mr. Mercer, stammering and then explaining his concerns about Mr. Trumps policy positions, rhetoric and cabinet choices. If what youre doing is harming the country then you have to stop.

“Until now, however, nobody within the tight-lipped hedge fund has gone public with a grievance.His views show contempt for the social safety net that he doesnt need, but many Americans do, said Mr. Magerman, 48 years old, during an interview with The Wall Street Journal at the Dairy Caf, a kosher restaurant he owns in Bala Cynwyd, Pa. Now hes using the money I helped him make to implement his worldview by supporting Mr. Trump and encouraging that government be shrunk down to the size of a pinhead.Mr. Magerman, a 20-year Renaissance veteran who helped design the funds trading systems, says he is speaking only for himself, and that there is no sign of a broad insurrection at the firm.”

“Mr. Magerman makes millions of dollars a year, drives a Tesla and says he gives more than $10 million in charity annually. A research scientist, he is one of 100 partners at the firm, but he isnt one of Renaissances most senior executives.Id like to think Im speaking out in a way that wont risk my job, but its very possible they could fire me, he said. My wife isnt comfortable with me jeopardizing my job, but she realizes its my prerogative and agrees with my sentiments.Mr. Magerman has one idea that would reduce the power of people like Mr. Mercer. He said he was thinking about reaching out to Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) to craft proposals to reduce speculative trading, which presumably would curtail Renaissances profits.This is my lifes workI ran a group that wrote the trading system they still use, he said. But I feel relieved Im now doing something, and if they fire me, maybe its for the best.” [WSJ]

–Flashback: “The Controversial David Magerman” by Simon Van Zuylen-Wood in September 2013:”Wealthy Main Liner David Magerman has given millions to Philadelphias Jewish community. The Jewish community is thankful. Sort of.” [PhillyMag]

DNC WATCH — Yesterday, at the final debate ahead of the election for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee taking place on Saturday, Rep. Keith Ellison addressed past comments, including praise forLouis Farrakhan, controversialviews towards the Jewish community and his position on the U.S.- Israel relationship, that havecaused many establishment Jewish Democrats to oppose his candidacy.

These are false allegations, Ellison said when asked about his past comments thirteenminutes into the live TV debate in Atlanta, and that’s why I have 300 rabbis and Jewish community leaders who have signed a letter supporting me I have a long, strong history of interfaith dialogue, interfaith communication, and that’s why in my own community, I have strong support from the Jewish community. So these are smears and we’re fighting back every day, but we’re fighting back with people who know us. I just want to say, it is critical that we speak up against this anti-Semitism because right now, you have Jewish cemeteries being defaced and desecrated. Right now, you have Jewish institutions getting bomb threats. We have to stand with the Jewish community right here, right now, four square, and that’s what the Democratic Party is all about.

Ellison on Democratic concerns of his Israel record: Here’s what I say, I voted for $27 billion in bilateral aid to Israel over the course of about six or seven votes. I have been to the region many times and sat down with members of the Knesset and worked with them. I’ve been a stalwart champion of the two-state solution, which means that we’ve got to have Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security. And I have made that a very key cornerstone of my advocacy I believe that the U.S.-Israel relationship is special and important. I’ve stood for that principle my whole service and my whole career. And you can trust when I’m the DNC chair that that relationship will continue. We will maintain the bipartisan consensus of U.S. support for Israel if I’m the DNC chair. [YouTube]

INTERVIEW — JI’s Aaron Magid spoke withNORPACNational President Ben Chouakewho spoke out againstattacks on Sen. Bob Menendez for questioningDavid Friedman, while implying concerns around dual loyalty,during theSenate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last week.

“Out of all the Democratic Senators, by far, Senator Menendez posed the most generous and friendly questions to Mr. Friedman,” Chouake told Jewish Insider in a phone interview on Wednesday. “He was trying to help Mr. Friedman explain himself and give him a lay-up so that he could bat it out of the park. The intention of Senator Menendez was to get reassurance from Mr. Friedman that he could do his job given his passion…Its horrible and inappropriate because Senator Menendez is the exact opposite of anti-Semitic. I am working with this guy for 20 years. He is the go to person in the Senate. He is the person who spends day and night fighting for us. How do you accuse someone like that of anti-Semitism? The guy took a bullet for us on Iran.”

Chouake on ADL’s deleted tweet criticizing Menendez: “Why did they delete it unless they thought they were wrong. You dont delete stuff that you think is right. The guy asked a question. I dont know if it was perfectly posed or not. His questioning to Mr. Friedman was very friendly. By far the most friendly Democrat on the panel. I think he was trying to help him. You have to look at everything in the context of what it is and the person who was asking. If I asked the same question, would you call me an anti-Semite? So, why are you calling him an anti-Semite?”

OnFriedman as Ambassador to Israel: “I support him because he is committed to the issue and will do a good job. He is also a member of NORPAC. The problem was that he speaks awfully harshly about certain things. He apologized for it and thats good. His heart is great. I like him and know the guy.” Read the entire interview here [Jewish Insider]

DRIVING THIS WEEKEND: Pence, Adelson to meet privately by Theodore Schleifer: …a meeting that cements the Republican billionaire’s place as a key adviser to the new administration. Pence, who is speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition that meets at Adelson’s hotel and casino in Las Vegas, The Venetian, will chat formally with Adelson just before he addresses the entire RJC on Friday evening, according to a source with knowledge of the meeting. [CNN]

–We’re told prior to Pence’s remarks at Shabbat dinner, the RJC will be hosting Friday evening prayer services with expected participation from over 150 attendees.

Pence makes stop at Jewish cemetery in Missouri where gravestones were toppled by John Wagner: From the heart, theres no place in America for hatred or acts of prejudice or violence or anti-Semitism, Pence said from the bed of a pickup truck, speaking through a bullhorn at an event organized to clean up the damage. I must tell you, the people of Missouri are inspiring the nation by your love and care for this place, for the Jewish community in Missouri Pence made his unadvertised visit to the cemetery shortly after delivering a speech… on the economy…We condemn this vile act of vandalism and those who perpetrated it in the strongest possible terms, he said While at the cemetery on Wednesday, Pence also heard a prayer from a rabbi and joined Gov. Eric Greitens (R) in clearing brush. [WashPost]

— From WH pool report: Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Karen Aroesty spoke to Pence briefly just before he hopped onto the bed of the pickup. She said. “I want to thank you for being here and thank the president for his words. We look forward to doing whatever we can to help. We’re a resource for you if you want. Being here today is important for a lot of people.” “I didn’t want to miss coming,” Pence said As Pence walked away from delivering remarks he greeted people who had come to the cemetery to volunteer. Many thanked him for being there and the message that sent. One woman asked him how the travel ban was any different than the desecration of the cemetery.

WATCH: Marc Daniels, the Kippah Guy, gives Pence a red Trump/Pence yarmulke (minute 03:26) and gets a hug in return [YouTube; Pic]

A bipartisan letter signed by 150 Democratic and Republican House Members, including Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), who is running for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee on Saturday, calls on the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to take swift action against the bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers (JCC) across the country. We urge the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice to swiftly assess the situation and to advise Congress on what specific steps are being taken, or will be taken, to deter such threats from being made, to identify and prosecute the perpetrators for violations of federal criminal laws, and to enable JCCs to enhance security measures such as physical barriers and guards, in the event that an individual seeks to act upon these threats, the letter states. This is not an idle concern, given that there have been at least three casualty-causing attacks at JCCs or other Jewish institutions in the last two decades. This is a national problem and, as such, it requires a national solution. the letter notes. [JewishInsider]

“Clearly, the Trump administration has a problem with Jews” by Bernard-Henri Levy: “I had no idea how right I was, a month ago, when I wrote in The New York Times that American Jews should be wary of their new President…At best, Mr. Netanyahu will go down as a very distant relative of Joseph making an alliance with Pharaoh to protect his people.But we know how that story ends: just as a new pharaoh “arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph” and reduced his descendants to slavery, so, sooner or later, a new president will arise over America.Leading, according to the Talmud, to two equally tragic scenarios.Either the newcomer is indeed a new pharaoh and will associate the Jews with the predecessor whose cause and destiny they so recklessly embraced.Or, as the sages say, he is the same pharaoh but has changed sides. Translating this into present-day terms, the unpredictable Mr. Trump becomes another Mr. Trump; he makes a 180-degree perspective shift in his vision of the Jewish world; and he turns against an Israel about which, at bottom, he cares not a whit and which, therefore, has everything to fear, beginning right here and now, from his cynical “pragmatism.”" [CNN] A CNN panel debates the presidents anti-Semitism trump card: His daughter Ivanka [WashPost]

In Israel, Some Wonder Where The Outrage Is Over U.S. Anti-Semitic Acts by Daniel Estrin: Netanyahu’s muted response has drawn criticism, including from Yehuda Bauer, the academic advisor of Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial and museum. “He follows President Trump,” Bauer says. “He did not react immediately.” A former adviser to Netanyahu, Dore Gold, says he doesn’t see anything wrong with Netanyahu’s response. “There has been a tendency to politicize this whole issue of anti-Semitism in America,” he says. “Opponents of the Trump administration want to blame it for anti-Semites coming out of the woodwork and attacking Jewish institutions. I think we should all be united in our struggle against anti-Semitism, and not look for a fall guy for what is happening.” [NPR]

TALK OF THE TOWN: Anti-Defamation League Receives Bomb Threat at National Headquarters in New York by Roseanne Colletti: The bomb threat to the Third Avenue office was anonymous, according to ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt Police say they got a call about it shortly before noon. An investigation found it not credible. “It’s a frightening moment and it reminds us that the haters and the bigots, they hide in the shadows like cowards and they seek to terrorize us because of our faith,” Greenblatt said on MSNBC Wednesday Gov. Cuomo called the pattern a “national crisis” and directed the New York State Police to coordinate with federal and local law enforcement in the investigation. “We are treating these incidents for what they are — as crimes — and we will not allow them to go unpunished,” Cuomo said in a statement. [NBC4]

HAPPENING TODAY: Governor Andrew Cuomo will hold a roundtable with Jewish Community and interfaith leaders at the Museum of Jewish Heritage at 2:00 pm EST followed by a press statement.

“Bill Kristol: Hill Republicans asking if they can survive four years of Trump” by Tim Skoczek:”I think if you talk privately to Republicans on the Hill, it’s like, ‘Oh my God, what is going on? Can we survive this for four years?’” Kristol told David Axelrod on “The Axe Files” …A well-known proponent of a muscular US foreign policy, Kristol also expressed a deep concern with Trump’s “America first” philosophy, which Kristol said signals America’s withdrawal from an unstable world in need of its leadership. The reassurance Kristol found in some of Trump’s Cabinet appointments, he said, has dissipated as Trump navigates the complexities of foreign diplomacy with a worrying degree of impulsiveness and bombast. “I’ve got to say, this first month has been very unnerving to me and to many, many others,” Kristol said.” [CNN]

TRUMP TEAM: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Sees Tax Overhaul by August by Rebecca Ballhaus and Nick Timiraos: In his first week on the job, Mr. Mnuchin has spoken with around 10 foreign counterparts and other leaders The secretary has been in close contact with National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, his former colleague at Goldman Sachs Group Inc… The two men have a close relationship, a Treasury official said. [WSJ]

McMaster May Reorganize Trumps Foreign Policy Team Once Again by Peter Baker: Left uncertain is what, if anything, will happen regarding Stephen K. Bannon, the presidents chief strategist, who has played a major role in shaping foreign policy Since arriving this week, Mr. McMaster has made a point of going door to door through the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where most national security aides work, to introduce himself and build relations, current and former officials said. [NYTimes]

Tillerson looking for ways to raise his public profile by Nahal Toosi: Tillerson is clearly a very talented and able guy, said Eliot Cohen, a former State official… The problem is that this is the Trump administration, and one has to surmise that he is not where the president is on some of his zanier days. Meanwhile, several dozen Trump-appointed political staffers have arrived in Foggy Bottom Its like high school, said the State official familiar with Tillersons media request. The Trump people all sit together at the tables at lunch. The State Departments ego has been bruised by how rarely Tillerson has appeared alongside Trump. Sources have told POLITICO that the secretary of state was never consulted when Trump, in an appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, dropped the U.S. commitment to a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians. Tillerson also was on a trip to Europe when Netanyahu was in Washington, D.C., missing an opportunity for an important visual. [Politico] Rex Tillerson: The silent man at the State Department [CBSNews]

Rex Tillerson Is Already Underwater by Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky: At the moment, however, neither the headlines nor the trend lines look all that good for Tillerson. The secretary of state has options to play a more influential role under these unhappy circumstances, but, frankly, none of them are all that good. Unless his boss empowers him, Tillerson wont have the street cred he needs at home and abroad to emerge as a truly consequential secretary of state. [PoliticoMag]

How Ivanka Trump is rebranding herself as the grown up First Daughter of America” byAnne McElvoy:”An Arabic speaker Egyptian by birth, with a network of top contacts in the Middle East from her days working for the Bush administration [Dina] Powell is, in effect, chief adviser to Ivanka, with a powerful Rolodex of her own across the main parties in Washington. There is speculation that Ivanka is assembling a squad to balance the shoot-from-the-hip ideologists close to her father, to appeal to women who may not be Trump fans but are quietly unconvinced by the liberal feminist arguments against him.” [EveningStandard]Inside Ivanka Trumps Campaign for a $500 Billion Child-Care Plan [Bloomberg]

TRUMP ECHO CHAMBER: How Trumps campaign staffers tried to keep him off Twitter by Tara Palmeri: “If candidate Trump was upset about unfair coverage, it was productive to show him that he was getting fair coverage from outlets that were persuadable,” said former communications director Sam Nunberg I would assume the president would like to see positive and preferential treatment from those outlets and that would help the operation overall.” A former senior campaign official said Nunberg and his successor, former communications director Jason Miller, were particularly skilled at using alternative media like Breitbart, Washington Examiner, Infowars and the Daily Caller to show Trump positive coverage. [Politico]

“Is Trump Worse Than a Liar?” by David Suissa: It’s still possible, of course, that despite all the bullshit, some good can come out. Trump may deter evil regimes, support key allies, negotiate better deals, destroy ISIS and add millions of jobs. If he gets out of the way, some members of his team may score a few policy victories. But let’s be frank — for any initiative that will demand deep and grounded thinking from the man on top, it will be touch and go Trump has brought his bullshit ways into the White House, creating a chaotic reality show that chronicles his alternate reality. As long as he keeps believing in this reality, and getting away with it, all we can expect is that, for better or for worse, the show will go on. [JewishJournal]

KAFE KNESSET –Netanyahu adds another stop to his busy itinerary — by Tal Shalev:Far away from the troubling reality of criminal probes and political hazards, Netanyahu appears to be enjoying the Grand World BB tour. Currently enjoying the summer sun in Sydney, Australia, the PM announced he will be flying to Moscow in two weeks time. He will meet with President Putin to discuss Israel’sconcerns about Syria and Iran. The Russian trip will be the sixth that Netanyahu is taking during February and March. After London, DC, Singapore and Sydney this month, Netanyahu will be spending most of March abroad as well, traveling to Beijing and then back to DC for AIPAC after visiting Moscow. All of the trips have huge strategic and economic significance, but as a senior political figure told Kafe Knesset today, it looks like Netanyahu is really trying not to be here. In the wake of the ongoing criminal investigations and political rivals who are waiting to attack, Netanyahu appears to prefer the smiling photo ops with world leaders. He is diverting the public agenda towards statesmanship, an arena in which he has no visible competition to date. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM — Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Trumps settlements policy: “The people working on it are Jason Greenblatt on behalf of Trump and our US ambassador, Ron Dermer. They are both religious Jews. It is impossible to describe either of them as some leftist enemy of Israel We have to reach an understanding and arrangement with the Americans. What people dont realize is that we dont have the option of getting into a quarrel with the Trump administration. We already had eight years of quarrels and conflicts with the Obama administration. That is enough. [Al-Monitor]

Parents of slain Israeli soldier meet US envoy at UN by Danielle Ziri: During their meeting, the Goldin family requested that Ambassador [Nikki] Haley assist in their efforts for the return of the bodies of their son [Hadar] and Sgt. Oron Shaul, also held in Gaza, for burial in Israel A spokesperson for the US Mission to the UN said that during the meeting, Ambassador Haley pledged to advocate on behalf of Hadar Goldin and work with Leah and Simcha as well as the Israeli Mission, and other US partners at the UN for the return of Hadar to his family. [JPost]

ON THE HILL: Graham to Introduce Bill Cutting Palestinian Aid by Aaron Magid: The office of Senator Lindsey Graham announced on Wednesday that the South Carolina Republican lawmaker would introduce legislation next week to cut off US assistance to the Palestinian Authority This legislation would cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) if they continue their policy of paying monetary rewards to terrorists and their surviving family members, according to the Graham press release. [JewishInsider]

** Good Thursday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff?Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? Wed love to hear from you.Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email**

BUSINESS BRIEFS:Starbucks’ brand perception has plummeted since it announced plan to hire refugees [BI] Wells Fargos independent directors hire Norman Brownstein’s lobbying firm [FT] British Startup Bank Turns to Ivanka Trumps Brother-in-Law [WSJ] Paul Singer is taking the attack on his latest target to the next level [Yahoo]

A legendary deal-maker was asked about the one mistake he made again and again, and his answer was brutal by Frank Chaparro: Henry Kravis is a Wall Street legend. The firm he founded with his cousin George Roberts in 1976, KKR, now manages $130 billion In an interview with Kip McDaniel at Institutional Investor, Kravis was asked to identify a mistake he repeated during his 40 years at KKR. His answer was pretty brutal Here’s what Kravis had to say “We might have been too slow in changing out some CEOs of companies we had, keep thinking that he or she will get a lot better Waiting is a lost opportunity, and we used to wait I think today we move much faster than we ever did.” [BI]

Hedge fund billionaire David Einhorn heading for divorce by Emily Smith: The Greenlight Capital founder, whose stock picks move markets, has separated from Cheryl [Strauss Einhorn], whom he married in 1993 before he made his fortune, now estimated at an impressive $1.55 billion. At stake in the upcoming divorce is their nearly 10,000-square-foot home in Rye, NY, and possibly his rumored vault of gold stashed at a secret location in New York City. The couple is well-known in New York for their philanthropic work. In 2002, they established the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, with the vision of building a more peaceful and harmonious society, according to its Web site. [NYPost]

Robert Kraft talks about his friendship with Donald Trump by Jesse Reed: Speaking about all this with Andrea Kramer on HBOs Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Kraft explained his relationship with Donald Trump. Do I agree with everything he says or espouses? No. But hes a friend, Kraft said. This country is awesome, and whomever is president of the United States, I will try to support. Ive done that since the 1960s. Kraft also talked about how loyal President Trump has been to him, noting the support he was given in 2011 when his wife Myra passed away. He said Trump called him multiple times per week to console him and see how he was doing. [MSN] Robert Kraft to Patriots critics: The haters still hate [FoxSports]

DESSERT: Sous-Vide Gefilte Fish? A Chefs Argentine-Jewish Cuisine by Tejal Rao: Mishiguene (crazy in Yiddish), which sits by a sprawling park in Buenos Aires, was the citys first restaurant to serve traditional Jewish foods in a tasting menu. [Toms] Kalika called it immigrant cuisine In March, he plans to open Fayer, his second restaurant in Buenos Aires. Argentina, home to one of the largest Jewish populations in the world, is his inspiration. At Fayer, he will cook more of what he sees as an emerging Argentine-Jewish cuisine multicultural Jewish influences from across the diaspora, unified by the open-fire grilling and wood smoke that define Argentine cooking Though the restaurant does not serve kosher food, the whirling, joyful mood during Friday dinners is that of an unconventional Shabbat. There is often drinking and dancing and roars of applause. [NYTimes]

Eighteen Caf, in Squirrel Hill, offers a unique menu of memorable kosher food by Angelique Bamberg and Jason Roth: Eighteen, a kosher wine bar and sit-down restaurant offers a variety of dishes not traditionally associated with Jewish culture, such as butternut-squash ravioli, pomegranate-glazed salmon and sushi, alongside classic Jewish-deli fare like bagels with lox and Israeli favorites such as hummus and shakshuka. The common thread, aside from being prepared under the supervision of a rabbi, is fish. Aside from eggs, it is the only animal protein on the menu. Eighteens pastrami is made from cured salmon, its reuben is made with smoked beets, and theres even a cheeseburger with a house-made veggie patty. [PittsburghCityPaper]

BIRTHDAYS:Philosopher, novelist and public intellectual, earned a Ph.D. from Princeton, winner of a MacArthur Genius Fellowship in 1996, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein turns 67…Political consultant and pollster Frank Luntz turns 55…Billionaire founder and CEO of Dell Technologies, investor, philanthropist and author, Michael Dell turns 52…Movie, stage and television actor, comedian and singer, Josh Gad turns 36…Former director of women’s media at Hillary for America, former deputy press secretary at the Democratic National Committee, Rebecca Chalif turns 31…Bloomberg political reporter (with two years of daily travel covering Hillary Clinton), previously a White House reporter for Politico, was once managing editor of the Daily Princetonian, Jennifer Epstein (h/ts Playbook)…Former intern at the White House Office of Public Engagement, former Hillary Iowa Fellow and Hillary Florida Fellow, now with the Podesta Group in the office of the chairman, Gidon Feen turns 22…CEO at NYC-based Puder PR, after 10 years as director of communications and PR for the Jewish Federations of North America, Joe Berkofsky…Reporter for the Texas Tribune in Austin covering state politics and the Texas Legislature, Patrick Svitek…AIPAC alum Reuben A. Engber…Financial consultant and organizer for non-profit organizations, archives and artists, Johnathan Morpurgo…Barak Daon…Lois Copeland…Mark Jacobs…

Gratuity not included. Welovereceivingnews tips but we also gladly accept tax deductible tips.100% of your donation will go directly towards improving Jewish Insider. Thanks! [PayPal]

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Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff: February 23, 2017 – Haaretz

Anti-Defamation League Receives Bomb Threat at National …

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The Anti-Defamation League’s national headquarters in New York received a bomb threat Wednesday, and the group says it is working with authorities to determine if it is connected to the rash of threats targeting Jewish community centers across the country in recent months.

The bomb threat to the Third Avenue office was anonymous, according to ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. Greenblatt said while there is nothing to indicate the threat is anything more than that, the group is taking it “very seriously.”

The specific nature of the threat wasn’t immediately clear. Police say they got a call about it shortly before noon. An investigation found it not credible.

“It’s a frightening moment and it reminds us that the haters and the bigots, they hide in the shadows like cowards and they seek to terrorize us because of our faith,” Greenblatt said on MSNBC Wednesday. “We will not be deterred and we will not be daunted.”

The threat comes two days after 10 Jewish community centers across the country were evacuated in response to bomb threats.In January, another round of bomb threats targeted 53 Jewish community centers across 26 U.S. states and one Canadian province over a period of three days.

The FBI is involved in the investigation, and the ADL has called on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to launch a coordinated multi-agency probe.

In the wake of the threat to the ADL, Gov. Cuomo called the pattern a “national crisis” and directed the New York State Police to coordinate with federal and local law enforcement in the investigation.

“We are treating these incidents for what they are — as crimes — and we will not allow them to go unpunished,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Make no mistake, we will find these perpetrators and hold them fully accountable.”

President Donald Trump addressed the series of JCC bomb threats for the first time Tuesday, calling them “horrible and painful.” The remarks came amid mounting criticism about his silence.Earlier Tuesday, Hillary Clinton called the series of threats and attacks against Jews and Jewish groups “so troubling” in a tweet that urged Trump to speak out against them.

Trump added that the threats were a”very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.”

Published at 12:27 PM EST on Feb 22, 2017 | Updated at 7:00 PM EST on Feb 22, 2017

Anti-Defamation League Receives Bomb Threat at National …

Anti-Defamation League Deeply Disturbed Over Additional Bomb Threats Directed at Jewish Community Centers … – eNews Park Forest

New York, NY(ENEWSPF)February 20, 2017 The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is deeply disturbed by additional bomb threats directed against Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) in multiple states across the United States today the fourth series of such threats since the start of the year.

While ADL does not have any information at this time to indicate the presence of any actual bombs at any of the institutions threatened, the threats themselves are alarming, disruptive, and must always been taken seriously.

We are confident that JCCs around the country are taking the necessary security protections, and that law enforcement officials are making their investigation of these threats a high priority, said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. We look to our political leaders at all levels to speak out against such threats directed against Jewish institutions, to make it clear that such actions are unacceptable, and to pledge that they will work with law enforcement officials to ensure that those responsible will be apprehended and punished to the full extent of the law.

In response to the threats, ADL issued a Security Advisory for all Jewish institutions nationwide with action steps including:

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the worlds leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.


Hate Groups Increase for Second Consecutive Year as Trump Electrifies Radical Right

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Anti-Defamation League Deeply Disturbed Over Additional Bomb Threats Directed at Jewish Community Centers … – eNews Park Forest

Central Bucks’ Holocaust Awareness Junior League stands up to intolerance – Bucks County Courier Times

I cannot tell you the last time I made it through an entire school day without hearing some type of ethnic or racial slur being shouted down the hallway, or the last time I made it an entire day without witnessing or hearing about a cruel comment made about an event that should not be joked about.

I do not know when it suddenly became cool to use a certain racial slur about African Americans, or make jokes about the Holocaust, but apparently some teenagers find those topics more entertaining than funny cat videos.

I mean, they call you the aforementioned racial slur like its your name. These comments usually come from those who are either uneducated about the topic, or they simply do not care about the effects their words/actions have.

Although there is plethora of teenagers not only in our district but around the country who say these harmful words and joke around about these horrible events, there is one group in particular located right in Central Bucks who makes it their main mission to stop these acts.

This is a group of public school students from the Central Bucks area called the Holocaust Awareness Junior League. They made it their goal to bring about positive change and spread their message, explained in this mission statement they sent me:

The recent acts of intolerance toward various groups within the Central Bucks community point to a lack of education among the general population. We are public school students who are members of a non-denominational group called the Holocaust Awareness Junior League. Our mission is to promote Holocaust education to the general public through advocacy and the facilitation of survivor programs in schools.

“It is no longer enough to read about the Holocaust from a textbook. The numbers elicit no empathy. In this day and age, there is no room for bystanders. By educating youth, we can create a new generation of people open to differences and unafraid to have thoughtful conversations. Together, students and educators need to help spread the word of genocide and intolerance to make sure the stories of those who perished in the Holocaust and those who survived never disappear and wont be denied.

“Change starts with education. The importance of spreading knowledge of the Holocaust should not be diminished. We owe it to the millions of victims to continue sharing their stories so that they are never forgotten. We are the last generation with survivors, and it’s up to all of us to prevent the intolerance that comes with the lack of education. We cant accept the fact that people are being discriminated against in our community.

“If you are aware of any recent acts of intolerance within our community, and would like to discuss an appropriate response, please contact us at If you are interested in inviting a Holocaust survivor to speak at your school or to your organization, or want to learn more about local survivors, please visit the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center at HAJL

I do not, and I never will, understand why people think it is OK to joke around about events like the Holocaust, or use ethnic slurs, especially when they know it is not appropriate.

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Central Bucks’ Holocaust Awareness Junior League stands up to intolerance – Bucks County Courier Times

Holocaust survivor reflects on traumatizing experience – Corpus Christi Caller-Times

Holocaust Survivor Dr. William Samelson talks about the Holocaust and its consequences on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, at Corpus Christi Jewish Community Center in Corpus Christi.(Photo: Gabe Hernandez/Caller-Times)Buy Photo

It’s hard to tell William Samelson had experienced one of the largest atrocitiesin history.

Throughout his talk Tuesday evening at the Corpus Christi Jewish Community Center, he laughed often, and even took a phone call from his daughter in the midst of speaking.

“I’m glad I didn’t silence my phone,” he joked to the crowd after the brief conversation with his youngest daughter.

But life hasn’t always been that pleasant for him. Samelsonsurvived the Holocaust.

Samelson wrote about his life experiences titled “The Holocaust and Its Consequences.” Writing, he said, was his form of therapy.

Samelson was only 11 when Nazis rounded up all the Jews in his Polish village to take them to concentration camps. He carried a violin under his arm and recalls an officer asking him to play it.

“I thought for a moment my musical talent might save some people here,” he told the audience.

The officer immediately shattered Samelson’s comforting thought.

“He ripped the violin from under my chin and destroyed it on my head,” he said.

Samelson was fortunate to go through concentration camps with his brother by his side, but they were separated from their mother and younger sister.

“It was almost 80 years ago that I heard the anguishing cry of my mother,” he said slowly, as he stopped to wipe his tears. “The last time we saw her, she was climbing into the freight train and we lost sight of her.”

In his book Samelson included a chapter about how he imagined the kind of life his sister would have had. In the chapter, he said his sister finds love and gets married.

“Fantasy is a precious thing,” he said.

Samelson also took a moment to recognize the Nazis he encountered whoshowed empathy to Jews. He credited his survival to them.

“If it were not for the ones that were kind, no one would have survived,” he said.

After his camp was liberated by the U.S. Army in 1945, Samelson caught up on his education. He holds a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin, and has taught in universities around the country.

Despite the hardships, Samelson has been able to make up for the time he lost in concentration camps, and has enjoyedlife along the way.

“I try to laugh often,” he said. “Life is not a tragedy. It’s a comedy.”

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Holocaust survivor reflects on traumatizing experience – Corpus Christi Caller-Times

Educators learn new ways to teach Holocaust studies – Sun Sentinel

A record number of 120 participants recently took part in the annual advanced Holocaust Symposium at the University of Miami.

During this recent symposium, teacher graduates of the UM Holocaust Teacher Institute, which takes place each summer, learned news ways to incorporate Holocaust education into their classrooms. This symposium was hosted by UM School of Law together with WLRN, the School of Education & Human Development and The Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies.

Miriam Klein Kassenoff, director for the Holocaust Teacher Institute, said “The participants’ dedication and enthusiasm was amazing. Imagine coming on a rainy Sunday and staying all day and always asking great questions.”

The symposium included presentations by Jeremy Nesoff, associate program director for the Leadership Academy of the Boston-based organization Facing History and Ourselves, and renowned Holocaust scholar Michael Berenbaum. Haim Shaked, founding director of UM’s Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies, also participated in a discussion with Berenbaum. The symposium also honored Joanne Harvest Koren, Lecturer in Law and director of UM School of Law’s Academic Achievement Program, for her dedication and unwavering support for it.

Nesoff said, “For me to be at a symposium with scholars like Dr. Berenbaum and Dr. Kassenoff who are really focused on how to bring this history to the students is so valuable and so important that it’s just an honor to be a part of it.”

“I really hope the teachers teaching our adolescents can leave with really concrete ideas about how they can teach this subject to our students and also think about the purpose, and the purpose should really be about civil engagement,” he added.

Kassenoff praised the guest presenters.

“Dr. Berenbaum is always brilliant,” She said. “His lectures elevate and thus the teachers feel elevated in that they have been treated to such excellent scholarship. It makes them feel energized to teach what they learn from him.”

Kassenoff continued, “Jeremy Nesoff is a top well known Holocaust educator and he inspires the teachers to show connections in teaching the Holocaust using art, poetry and literature a wonderful new lesson for my teachers.”

Mary A. Milan, a social studies teacher at G. Holmes Braddock Senior High School in Miami who volunteered at the symposium, said it’s “basically teaching teachers how to teach the Holocaust.”

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for teachers,” Milan noted. “Every time I come here I learn something new. Even if Miriam brings Dr. Berenbaum on a regular basis as her guest lecturer, he brings new information every time. She also brings different people in every time and it’s great stuff for my education and for me to pass on to my students as I’m surprised how much this generation is interested in the Holocaust.”

Gary Sheckman, a teacher at Gulliver Preparatory School in Pinecrest and a volunteer for the seminar, which he calls a “unique program,” said, “I’ve seen Michael Berenbaum many times here. He’s a really fascinating person. It’s amazing how much he knows and that he has all the dates and people down.”

When asked to discuss the importance of this seminar due to the recent rash of violence in the world today, the number of survivors dwindling due to age and the Holocaust deniers out there, Kassenoff responded, “I think with what is going on in the world today, it is important for people who attend seminars such as our Holocaust seminars to learn how to study history through facts real facts, not alternative facts and that the educators continue to give students a moral compass of how to live and how to lead and how important it is for them to be engaged in our country’s civic lessons and be active in how they want America to be governed for their future.”

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Educators learn new ways to teach Holocaust studies – Sun Sentinel

Trump condemns anti-Semitism but can’t stop questions …

But scores of people still took issue with how long the statement took. It left many wondering just why he delayed taking a seemingly obvious moral course for a president in the face of bomb threats at 48 JCCs in 26 states in January and rising fears of widening nationwide anti-Semitism after additional incidents this month.

Former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, a CNN senior political commentator, said he was “befuddled” over why Trump had not spoken out before.

“This is a President who to me is very much a mensch,” Santorum told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday, using the Yiddish term for a person of decency and integrity. He also noted Trump’s support for Israel and his three Jewish grandchildren.

Trump’s missing voice on the issue effectively created a vacuum that allowed critics to lay fresh charges of bigotry against him and had even his defenders wondering why the President seemed unwilling to address the issue.

Trump had several opportunities in news conferences last week to speak out against threats that are causing deep anxiety within Jewish communities and failed to do so. Moreover, he brusquely shut down an Orthodox Jewish journalist on the issue in one of the most jarring encounters of his presidency.

That confrontation, the new spate of threats against JCCs, the desecration of a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis and growing political pressure for Trump to speak out — including from his defeated presidential rival Hillary Clinton — help explain the timing of his remarks.

It was fast becoming politically damaging for Trump not to adopt a stern, public line against the incidents.

“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 still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil,” Trump said Tuesday during a visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The President said that his tour was “a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms.”

Trump won kudos for his remarks.

“What he said just recently is what I would hope the President of the United States would do,” Democratic Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin said on CNN on Tuesday. But he added, “He was slow to getting to this issue.”

Indeed, Trump’s clear words were also a reminder of what had been missing — and are unlikely to satisfy Trump’s opponents. Particularly after his missteps exacerbated their concerns about his true interest in stamping out anti-Semitism.

For one thing, Trump’s extreme sensitivity to criticism has led him to equate questions about racial and religious prejudice in general as a suggestion that he might somehow be personally guilty of such sins, obscuring the larger issue and the depth of his opposition to expressions of prejudice.

When Jake Turx of Brooklyn-based Ami magazine asked Trump last week about the rise in anti-Semitic acts, the President immediately jumped to the conclusion he was being accused of bigotry, despite the fact the reporter took steps to assure him that was not the case.

“Quiet, quiet, quiet,” Trump said as the reporter tried to explain his question.

“I hate the charge, I find it repulsive,” Trump said.

The exchange was a fresh indication of how the President tends to personalize many issues, ranging from Russia or questions about the legitimacy of his election win and see them as a reflection of his own reputation.

It’s not as if he needed to wait for his visit to the museum to make his feelings clear. No president in modern times has kept up such a torrent of condemnation on the long list of people, events and issues that irk him, often on Twitter but also in frequent photo ops with journalists.

So his failure to speak out forcefully about anti-Semitism had perplexed Washington.

Trump critics suggested that the delay was in keeping with what they see as the President’s consistent failure to condemn bigotry, especially among extremist groups attracted by his campaign rhetoric. He was hit with criticism last year for not promptly repudiating key Ku Klux Klan figure David Duke, though Trump did later do so.

More recently, Trump critics pointed to the administration’s immigration ban on the citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries that was stayed by a federal court as evidence of prejudice in the West Wing.

The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect said Trump’s statement was merely “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,” said Steven Goldstein, the center’s executive director.

The anti-Semitism controversy also appears to reflect the growing pains of a new administration and the struggles evident in Trump’s transition from rabble-rousing candidate to president.

Trump and his team — many of whom are outsiders in his own image — lack deep governing experience, and already seem to betray a bunker mentality that hurts their ability to navigate fast-growing political challenges.

“He took way too long” to respond, said former Democratic congressman Steve Israel, now a CNN commentator, who stressed he was not accusing Trump of anti-Semitism but wanted him to speak out more prominently against it.

“The President not only has the bully pulpit, he has the moral high ground,” Israel said, and cast doubt on the political savvy of the White House. “This is an administration that seems to be good about denying itself its own lay-ups. This should have been said earlier. It should have been easy.”

Israel and others called on Trump to take real steps to reinforce his remarks.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to establish a special task force to apprehend those behind the bomb threats and for Trump to “outline his administration’s plan to combat surging anti-Semitism.”

At the White House, spokesman Sean Spicer did not offer specifics about what Trump would do policy-wise. But he promised the President would “speak very, very forcefully against those who are seeking to do hate or to tear people down.”

He also complained about those continuing to criticize the President on this front.

“It’s ironic that no matter how many times he talks about this, that it’s never good enough. Today I think was an unbelievably forceful comment by the President … but I think that he’s been very clear previous to this that he wants to be someone that brings this country together and not divides people,” Spicer said.

CNN’s Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.

Trump condemns anti-Semitism but can’t stop questions …

Trump, the Jews and the political weaponization of antisemitism – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Was that so hard?

At some point in the past week, it looked like President Donald Trump was never going to use antisemitism in a sentence. It took a fourth series of hoax bomb threats at JCCs around the country and imprecations from Jewish groups across the ideological spectrum for the president to at last use the A word.

Antisemitism is horrible and its going to stop, and it has to stop, Trump said Tuesday morning. The antisemitic threats targeting our Jewish community and our Jewish community centers are horrible, are painful and they are a reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.

That it took so long for Trump to condemn antisemitism after twice being asked about it last week, and coming on the heels of a White House International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement that somehow omitted any mention of the Jews, was mind-boggling to many groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, which said so in a tweet.

It had reached a point that I already started imagining a White House Passover greeting that didnt mention the Jews.

Starting at sundown, the world will come together to remember certain events in Egypt, it would begin, and end with, Ive made it clear that all plagues are horrible.

What made Trumps demurrals stranger is that denunciations of antisemitism are to presidential declarations what kosher symbols are to supermarket goods: It doesnt hurt to have one, and only Jews usually notice.

So why did it take the administration five tries to get it right? I am counting the two news conferences, in which Trump basically punted on the question from two Jewish reporters; a statement from the White House on Monday that denounced hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind without mentioning Jews or antisemitism, and daughter Ivankas tweet saying We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers. #JCC. The JCC hashtag was a nice touch, but not exactly a Queen Esther-style declaration of co-religious solidarity.

Pundits spent the past week trying to explain Trumps hesitation. Peter Beinart blamed narcissism, using the theory that when Trump hears antisemitism, he cant help but take it as a personal attack that he must fend off. I wondered if it was simple belligerence that the more you ask this president for something, the more he is likely to say you cant make me.

Or maybe he was just annoyed at the ADL, the group most identified with combating antisemitism, for repeatedly calling him and his campaign out for either ignoring or encouraging intolerance. Maybe Trump saw CEO Jonathan Greenblatts Feb. 17 column in The Washington Post recalling how the Trump campaign repeatedly tweeted and shared antisemitic imagery and language, thus allowing this poison to move from the margins into the mainstream of the public conversation.

The most ominous explanation, offered by Bradley Burston from the left-wing Haaretz newspaper and a surprisingly outspoken Chuck Todd of NBC News, was that Trump was throwing a bone to or at least trying not to alienate the alt-right trolls who formed a small but vocal part of his winning coalition.

Mr. President, we believe you and many other Jews believe you, so please make it clear that not only are you not an antisemite but that you reject people who are even if they did vote for you, Todd said last week.

If Trump had been struggling with a political calculation, it was reminiscent of one that played out in the 2008 campaign, when then-candidate Barack Obama was being pressed to disavow an endorsement from Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. When he was asked about Farrakhan during a debate with fellow Democratic contender Hillary Clinton, you could almost see the thought bubble over Obamas head as he weighed rejecting Farrakhan without alienating supporters who considered him a hero.

Obama answered by reiterating his denunciation of Farrakhans antisemitism, leading to a semantic debate with Clinton over the distinction between denouncing and rejecting. Eventually the ADLs then national director, Abe Foxman, declared that Obama had cleared the Farrakhan hurdle.

If Trumps allergy to the A word is a political calculation, what would it be? He knows that three out of every four Jews didnt vote for him, and perhaps someone is whispering to him, a la James Baker, that he gains no advantage by caving to a special interest as liberal as the Jews.

Trumps critics pin the issue on his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, who came to the Trump campaign after steering Breitbart News, which he himself called a platform for the alt-right, among other right-wing movements. In turn, Bannons defenders note that Breitbart is enthusiastically pro-Israel and often keeps tabs on antisemitism.

But search antisemitism at Breitbart and a pattern emerges one that could explain the week that was. The site seems most exercised about Jew hatred when it is committed by Muslims, members of the left wing in Europe, and far left and anti-Israel activists on American college campuses. When it does report on hate crimes in the United States, its coverage is almost always skeptical, highlighting hate-crime hoaxes or quoting those who deny that there has been a surge in hate crimes here or in Britain since the US elections or Brexit.

This week, when much of the press corps was focusing on how and whether Trump would denounce antisemitism, Joel Pollak, a senior editor-at-large at Breitbart, was accusing the media of hyping fears of antisemitism. Pollak blames an ongoing pattern of false hate crimes and the medias reluctance to report on left-wing antisemitism. But mostly he blames general anti-Trump hysteria.

Trumps critics seem to want to believe false accusations of antisemitism, which justify their hatred of him and maintain a sense of outrage and unity among activists, writes Pollak.

For Pollak and other Breitbart contributors, the reporting and denunciation of antisemitism is a partisan weapon wielded by the left to discredit the right. (Just as Trump asserted that its a charge wielded by a dishonest media to discredit him.) Of course, Breitbart also politicizes antisemitism, using it as a scarlet A to be worn, almost exclusively, by Muslims, campus radicals, self-hating Jews and European leftists. In fact, it has become an increasingly familiar trope both on the left and the right that the other is more antisemitic.

At least both sides agree that antisemitism is bad, even if they hesitate to take responsibility for the version that metastasizes among their ideological allies. They want to target the Jew haters but are wary about friendly fire.

Maybe the mistake of Jewish groups in seeking a strong response from Trump is that they are living in a simpler past, when both sides could agree that antisemitism was an evil, no matter the perpetrators or their politics.

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Trump, the Jews and the political weaponization of antisemitism – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Evidence of rising anti-Semitism, but data mostly elusive – Minnesota Public Radio News

Has anti-Semitism accompanied Donald Trump’s rise to power? Some organizations that monitor hate groups and hate crimes believe so, noting a rash of recent incidents. But data is elusive, and the president’s supporters note his family connection a Jewish daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren and his comments this week condemning hate and prejudice.

Here’s a look at recent incidents targeting Jewish sites and anti-Semitism in the U.S.:

Human rights activists and organizations are convinced that Trump’s popularity and electoral victory created an acceptance into the mainstream of the “alt-right,” an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism and populism, and along with it, anti-Semitism.

There have been reports nationwide in recent months of anti-Semitic incidents, including people yelling pro-Hitler comments at a rabbi on the street in Providence, R.I., swastikas drawn in subway cars in New York City, and bomb threats at Jewish buildings in several cities.

But determining whether such incidents have increased is difficult.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that monitors hate groups and extremists, reported last week that the number of hate groups operating in the U.S. rose from 892 in 2015 to 917 in last year. But that’s still short of the all-time high of 1,018 hate groups in 2011.

The organization also counted 1,094 bias-related incidents in the month following Trump’s November election victory, including 33 against Jews, 108 involving swastikas and 47 white nationalist fliers.

New York City police keep a running tab of hate crimes. As of Sunday, 31 hate crimes have been reported against Jewish people this year more than double compared to the same period of 2016.

Official nationwide government data for the last year isn’t available. The FBI tracks hate crimes, but the most recent available data is from 2015.

Among the most recent events were bomb threats phoned in to 11 Jewish community centers across the country on Monday, including in St. Paul, Chicago, Cleveland and Houston.

No bombs were found and no arrests have been made, but the threats along with similar threats over recent months at other centers created fear and uncertainty among Jewish people.

Also on Monday, roughly 200 headstones were found knocked over or broken at a Jewish cemetery in suburban St. Louis. No arrests have been made for the damage at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, Mo. Investigators have not yet determined if it was a hate crime. Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who is Jewish, posted a statement on Facebook calling the vandalism “despicable” and “cowardly.”

Until Tuesday, it was what Trump hadn’t said that raised eyebrows. Jewish groups and others were upset in January when a White House statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day failed to mention Jews. Aides to the president defended the statement as “inclusive” of all who were killed by the Nazis.

Last week, when a reporter from the Orthodox Ami Magazine tried to ask Trump during a news conference about increased reports of anti-Jewish harassment and hate crimes, Trump interrupted, saying, “not a fair question.” When reporter Jake Turx tried to continue, the president said: “Quiet, quiet, quiet … I find it repulsive. I hate even the question.”

Trump went on to call himself “the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your life,” and the “least racist person.”

But on Tuesday, Trump denounced threats against Jewish community centers as “horrible” and “painful,” saying more needed to be done “to root out hate and prejudice and evil.”

Speaking after a tour of the newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture, Trump said: “This tour was a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms.”

The president is a Presbyterian, but his daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism ahead of her 2009 marriage to Jared Kushner, who serves as a senior adviser to the president.

Ivanka and Jared Kushner’s children the president’s grandchildren are Jewish.

On Monday, Ivanka Trump wrote on Twitter, “We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers,” and used the hashtag #JCC, which stands for Jewish community center.

Evidence of rising anti-Semitism, but data mostly elusive – Minnesota Public Radio News

After delay and amid pressure, Trump denounces racism and anti-Semitism – Washington Post

President Trump on Tuesday denounced racism and anti-Semitic violence after weeks of struggling to offer clear statements of solidarity and support for racial and religious minorities.

During a visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Trump read carefully from prepared remarks decrying bigotry and specifically condemning a wave of recent threats against Jewish centers across the country.

This tour was a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms, Trump said. 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 still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.

Scanning the piece of paper with his finger as he read, Trump praised the museum on the Mall for its popularity and said the exhibitions had left their mark on his wife, Melania, who had visited the museum a week earlier.

For a president who prides himself on a freewheeling approach to leadership, Trumps demeanor on Monday was notably somber and disciplined. The appearance stood in stark contrast to the flashes of irritation he showed at a news conference last week at the White House, when he dismissed questions from reporters about his outreach to African American political leaders in Washington and his lack of response to a sharp increase in anti-Semitic incidents across the country.

The differing responses come as calls have been growing for Trump to respond to a wave of bomb threats directed against Jewish community centers in multiple states on Monday, the fourth in a series of such threats this year, according to the Anti-Defamation League. More than 170 Jewish gravestones were found toppled at a cemetery in suburban St. Louis, over the weekend.

[Trump decries anti-Semitic acts as horrible after threats and vandalism]

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, called Trumps statement as welcome as it is overdue.

President Trump has been inexcusably silent as this trend of anti-Semitism has continued and arguably accelerated, Pesner said. The president of the United States must always be a voice against hate and for the values of religious freedom and inclusion that are the nations highest ideals.

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer dismissed the idea that Trump has been slow to address anti-Semitism and racism.

I think its ironic that no matter how many times he talks about this, that its never good enough, Spicer said.

While presidents are often asked to set the tone for the country on sensitive issues of race and religion, Trump has rarely seized the moment. In the past week, Trump seemed to bat aside opportunities to address anti-Semitism. And when asked by a reporter whether he would meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Trump asked the reporter, who is African American, whether she would arrange the meeting with the lawmakers, implying that they were her friends.

After a campaign in which Trump was criticized for appealing primarily to white Christians while strongly criticizing Mexican immigrants, Muslims and urban African American communities, the president has said little to assuage concerns that he would govern in a similar fashion, his critics say.

I think it was a good symbolic gesture, but we need something of substance, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson said of Trumps museum visit, naming issues such as voting rights, unemployment and urban renewal. Theres been no communication on things that matter to us.

[Trump administration seeks to prevent panic as it outlines broader deportation policies]

Trump has pursued policies broadening the scope of enforcement actions against people illegally in the country and sought to bar entry to the United States by citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries who the administration said pose a significant danger to U.S. national security. Both actions have raised tensions with the countrys Hispanic and Muslim communities.

Some of Trump efforts Tuesday seemed aimed at smoothing over past rifts with minority communities. Spicer pointed out that during his visit to the African American history museum, Trump had viewed an exhibition featuring the speeches of civil rights leader and U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), with whom Trump feuded last month over Lewiss refusal to attend his inauguration.

Still, the moves are seen as insufficient to critics who want Trump to directly address what they consider to be his missteps.

I get that Trump never expected to be president, but now that he is president, he has to act like hes president for all of us, said Benjamin Jealous, a former president of the NAACP. If he wants to be seen as a healer, hes going to have to atone for his own sins, starting with his race-baiting on President Obama.

Trump has been particularly sensitive to any suggestion that his administration is anti-Jewish. During the presidential campaign, chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon was accused of having used the conservative news site Breitbart, when he ran it, as a platform for the alternative right. The alt-right, as it is commonly called, is a far-right movement that seeks a whites-only state and whose adherents are known for espousing racist, anti-Semitic and sexist points of view.

Asked during a news conference last Wednesday to respond to a wave of anti-Semitic incidents across the country, Trump first launched into a defense of his electoral college victory instead of addressing the issue. The next day, Trump was given a second opportunity to address the problem at another news conference but seemed to take the question as a personal affront, declaring that the journalist who posed the question who worked for a Jewish publication was not being fair to him.

This is frustrating to Trump. He thinks hes being treated unfairly, said Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, who called Trump the most pro-Israel president ever.

Trump has already been caught up in a number of controversies involving the Jewish community since taking office a month ago. The White House released a statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day that did not mention the Jewish people or anti-Semitism. Instead of acknowledging any error, the White House defended the wording, prompting criticism from several Republican-leaning Jewish groups and the ADL.

[Facing criticism, Trump administration has no regrets about leaving out Jews in Holocaust statement]

Klein was among the Jewish leaders who criticized the administrations omission, but he said it was a minor slip for an overwhelmingly pro-Jewish president.

I look for the policies much more than the words, Klein said. Small mistakes here and there theyre just not consequential.

Yet Trumps critics point to a larger pattern, including his hesitation at denouncing former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who has repeatedly pledged his support to Trump since Trump began his campaign in June 2015. Trumps comments Tuesday on anti-Semitism also came only after his daughter, Ivanka Trump, tweeted a broad condemnation of the recent attacks and threats Monday evening.

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, whom Trump defeated in November, tweeted early Tuesday in reference to the anti-Semitic incidents: Everyone must speak out, starting with @POTUS.

Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, said that when President Trump responds to anti-Semitism proactively and in real time, and without pleas and pressure, thats when well be able to say this president has turned a corner. This is not that moment.

Trumps supporters say that as a political outsider, the presidents response to racial and religious divisions may not be typical for politicians because he is focused more on actions and less on talk.

Tone matters, but tone is just empty talk if theres no movement in the right direction of those indicators of quality of life, said Ken Blackwell, a former secretary of state of Ohio and a former domestic policy adviser for the Trump presidential transition. Blackwell, who is African American, said he expects the administration to roll out new policies aimed at addressing the specific concerns of the black community in the coming weeks.

Just as youve had stops and starts on the immigration executive order, he will get his footing to address this as well, Blackwell said. Hes going to speak to these issues. But he is also uniquely Donald Trump, and he speaks in his own voice and in his own way.

Here is the original post:
After delay and amid pressure, Trump denounces racism and anti-Semitism – Washington Post

Netanyahu lauds Trump for taking ‘strong stand against antisemitism’ – Jerusalem Post Israel News

PM Netanyahu and President Trump. (photo credit:AVI OHAYON – GPO)

SYDNEY — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday commended US President Donald Trump for taking “a strong stand against antisemitism.”

Netanyahu, who started a five day-visit to Australia on Wednesday, made the remarks to loud applause in a packed synagogue in Sydney regarding comments Trump made the day before about a resurgence of antisemitism in the US.

“The antisemitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers 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.

Netanyahu, during his speech that extolled the tremendous relations between Israel and Australia, received equally fervent applause when he said that the Golan will never go back to Syria, it will always remain a part of Israel.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Australia rolled out a warm, red-carpet, 21-gun-salute welcome Netanyahu, the first ever sitting prime minister to visit this country whose friendship toward Israel and the Zionist cause dates back a century.

Using words like miracle and envy of the world to describe Israel, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull greeted Netanyahu and his wife Sara on the lush lawns of Admiralty House in Sydney, the residence of Australia’s Governor-General.

With the beautiful backdrop of the harbor and the iconic Sydney Opera House in sight, an honor guard greeted Netanyahu and Turnbull and played the Israeli anthem Hatikva twice.

The warmth of Turnbull’s reception was not relegated to the ceremonious welcome, as the Australian prime minister also penned an op-ed in Wednesdays edition of The Australian under the headline, Israeli PM visit cements a warm, old friendship.

An excerpt from the strongly pro-Israel piece appeared as well on the papers front page, titled Turnbull blasts UN over vote on Israel.

My government will not support one-sided resolutions criticizing Israel of the kind recently adopted by the UN Security Council and we deplore the boycott campaigns designed to delegitimize the Jewish state, he wrote.

Turnbull echoed these sentiments during the two public appearances he had with Netanyahu in the first eight hours of his arrival — at a press conference following an initial 90-minute meeting, and at a large event with some 400 Israeli and Australian business people.

At the press conference Turnbull reiterated Australia’s long-standing support for a two-state solution, but said that it must come as a result of direct negotiations. At the same time, the prime minister said Israel cannot be expected to put its security at risk, and that the first duty of any prime minister — both himself and Netanyahu included — is the security of his people.

Speaking about a possible resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Netanyahu said that Israel wants the Palestinians to have all the power to govern themselves, but not the military of physical power to threaten it. The question of a Palestinian state, he said, repeating his statement from last week’s visit to Washington, was not over labels, but rather over substance.

The premier added that a Palestinian state must recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and that Israel must retain final security control over the territory west of the Jordan River.

Both Netanyahu and Turnbull were each asked what could have been perceived as embarrassing questions: Netanyahu was asked about his relationship with Australian billionaire Packer whose name has been tied to one of the affairs for which he is under investigation, and Turnbull was asked about the now famously difficult first telephone conversation he had with Trump.

Netanyahu said that he was not at all concerned about the investigation into his relationship with Packer, and he repeated in English the Hebrew mantra he has been using since the affairs first broke: I think nothing will come of it because there is nothing there, except friendship, which is a good thing.

Regarding the phone call with Trump, Turnbull chuckled when asked whether Netanyahu might help repair the relationship between the US and Australia after that call.

You really shouldnt believe everything you read in the newspapers, he said of the infamous call, about which it was reported that Trump allegedly hung up on Turnbull.

That is absolutely not true, he said, adding that the call was courteous, frank and forthright, and ended with Turnbull thanking Trump for his commitment to the arrangements [regarding taking in refugees} that had been entered into by his predecessor.”

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Netanyahu lauds Trump for taking ‘strong stand against antisemitism’ – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Trump calls rising violence aimed at Jews ‘horrible and painful’ – Washington Post

President Trump urged Americans to “fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms,” including antisemitic threats targeted at Jewish community centers, speaking on Feb. 21 at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. (The Washington Post)

President Trump, under pressure to speak out against rising anti-Semitic vandalism in the country, said Tuesday that such acts are horrible and painful.

Trump used a morning visit to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture to offer his condemnation, saying his tour was a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms.

The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community at community centers 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.

[Jewish cemetery vandalized. Jewish centers threatened. ADL calls on Trump to step forward.]

During an earlier interview with NBC News at the site, Trump said: Anti-Semitism is horrible and its going to stop, and it has to stop.

I certainly hope they catch the people, he added.

On Monday, the Anti-Defamation League reported a wave of bomb threats directed against Jewish Community Centers in multiple states, the fourth series of such threats this year. More than 170 Jewish gravestones were toppled at a cemetery in Missouri over the weekend.

Growing outcry against a recent spate of anti-Semitic acts and threats pushed President Trump to denunciate the rising violence, calling it “a sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.” (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

Calls for Trump to condemn the violence had been growing. On Twitter on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic presidential rival, added her voice to those calling on Trump to speak out.

Jewish Community Center threats, cemetery desecration & online attacks are so troubling & they need to be stopped. Everyone must speak out, starting w/ @POTUS, Clinton said.

Trump was offered an opportunity to condemn the rising violence at a new conference Thursday. In response to an invitation by a reporter to do so, Trump called the question insulting and instead defended his personal beliefs, saying: I am the least anti-Semitic person that youve ever seen in your entire life.

Earlier in the week, appearing at another news conference alongsideIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump was asked about rising anti-Semitic violence across the country and started his answer by talking about the size of his electoral college victory in the fall. Trump said he wants to heal a divided nation, but did not explicitly condemn the spate of violence.

[Trump was asked a question about anti-Semitism. His answer was about the electoral college.]

Trumps daughter Ivanka Trump, who joined him on the museum tour Tuesday, took to Twitter on Monday night to address the issue, saying: We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers.

President Trumps words Tuesday were welcomed by some and criticized by others as too late.

The Presidents sudden acknowledgment is a Band-Aid on the cancer of anti-Semitism that has infected his own administration, said Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect. His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting ant-semitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record.

Goldstein was critical in particular of the White Houses decision not to mention Jews in a statement last month marking the Holocaust.

Meanwhile, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, called Trumps statement as welcome as it is overdue.

President Trump has been inexcusably silent as this trend of anti-Semitism has continued and arguably accelerated, Pesner said. The president of the United States must always be a voice against hate and for the values of religious freedom and inclusion that are the nations highest ideals.

Read more:
Trump calls rising violence aimed at Jews ‘horrible and painful’ – Washington Post

After weekend of anti-Semitic acts, Clinton urges Trump to ‘speak out’ – Washington Post

Growing outcry against a recent spate of anti-Semitic acts and threats pushed President Trump to denunciate the rising violence, calling it “a sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.” (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

President Trump called anti-Semitic violence horrible and vowed Tuesday to take steps to counter extremism in comments that followed criticism that the White House had not clearly denounced vandalism and threats targeting Jewish institutions.

Hours before Trumps remarks, Hillary Clinton called on her former presidential rival to speak out against anti-Semitic acts aftermore than 170 Jewish graves were found toppled at a cemetery in Missouri.

The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community at community centers 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 following a visit to the Smithsonians National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Trump called the tour a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms. Earlier, he told NBC News that anti-Semitism is horrible, and its going to stop.

The remarks by Trump also appear aimed at easing pressure on his administration, which faces claims from opponents that it has failed to distance itself from extremist ideology and has emboldened right-wing groups through its populist, America-first themes.

The tweet from Clinton did not specifically mention the gravesite disturbances inUniversity City, Mo., but noted increasing reports of troubling threats against Jewish community centers, cemetery desecrations and online intimidation.

Clintons message to Trump came as the president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald S. Lauder, also urged U.S. officials to recognize that anti-Semitism is alive and kicking.

American Jews are worried, Lauder said in a statement. It is shocking to see that Jewish sites are once again being targeted by criminals.

On Monday, the Anti-Defamation League reported a wave of bomb threats directed against Jewish community centers in multiple states, the fourth series of such threats since the beginning of the year, it said.The development elicited comments from a White House spokesman and Ivanka Trump, neither of which used the phrase anti-Semitism or mentioned Jews.

Glad to see this, the ADLs chief executive, Jonathan Greenblatt,tweeted of Ivanka Trumps comment. All Jews need to urge the president to step forward & share a plan. His words carry weight. His actions will speak even louder.

The exchanges were particularly noteworthy in part because of Trumps unusual response at a news conferenceWednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a question about the rise in anti-Semitic incidents around the country. Rather than condemning them, Trump responded by talking about his electoral college victory.

Trump has been criticized forrefusing to describe the threats toward Jews as anti-Semitism. An op-ed at the Forward, the New York-based newspaper written for a Jewish audience, described Trumps silence about anti-Semitism as deeply disturbing.

When asked again about the rise in anti-Semitic threats, during another news conference on Thursday, the president responded as ifhe were beingpersonally accused. Trumpsaidthat thequestion was very insulting and that he was the least anti-Semitic person that youve ever seen in your entire life.

The weekends events, coming in the wake of last weeks public exchanges with Trump, served to heat up a long-simmering tension between some leaders of the nations Jewish community and the Trump White House.

The perpetrators of the cemetery vandalism and their motives arenot yet established. Police in University City, an inner-ring suburb of St. Louis, have launched an investigation. They are reviewing video surveillance at the cemetery, which is operated on a not-for-profit basis by the Chesed Shel Emeth Society,and calling on anyone with information to come forward.

Because of the Sabbath, the cemetery does not operate on Saturday, the director of the Chesed Shel Emeth Society, Anita Feigenbaum, told The Washington Post in a phone interview.

A groundskeeper arrived Monday morning to find gravestones overturned across a wide section of the cemetery, the oldest section, bearing the remains of Jews who died between the late 1800s and the mid-20th century.

She called it a horrific act of cowardice, beyond anything the cemetery had experienced in the past.

The cemetery was founded in 1888 by the Russian Jewish community in St. Louis to aid all Jews who needed burial whether they had the money or not. They started with the burial society and then extended to hospitals and houses that help the poor and the sick. To this day thats what we do. We are not for profit. We help in this horrible time in a persons life.

Feigenbaum had walked through the cemetery during the day and had not yet completed counting the number of damaged stones, most of them pushed over, off their bases. So far she said she had found more than 170. Feigenbaum said she was starting to hear from families of people buried there. We will reach out to the families that are affected, she said.

The cemetery holds the remains of more than 20,000, she estimated.

She said she was getting an outpouring of support from across the United States with people volunteering to help with repairs.

Separately on Monday, the Anti-Defamation League reported a wave of bomb threats directed against Jewish community centers in multiple states, the fourth series of such threats since the beginning of the year, it said.

While ADL does not have any information at this time to indicate the presence of any actual bombs at the institutions threatened, the threats themselves are alarming, disruptive and must always be taken seriously.

Bomb threats were called in at Jewish community centers in 11cities across the United States: Albuquerque, Amherst, Birmingham, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Milwaukee, Nashville, St. Paul, Tampa and Whitefish Bay, Wis.Since January, there have been 69 bomb threatcalls targeting 54 centers in 27 different states, according to the Jewish Community Center Association.

In Amherst and Buffalo, the community centers werebriefly closedafter a threat was phoned to the Amherst center. Disruption was the goal, saidRichard A. Zakalik, the local New York JCC executive director, to the Buffalo Newson Monday. They accomplished what they wanted, Zakalik said to the Buffalo News.The whole point was to scare and disrupt.

No devices or bombs were found in connection with thethreats; the Jewish Community Center Association described all of Mondays incidents ashoaxes. The FBI and the civil rights division of the Justice Department will probe the series of calls for federal violations, according tothe Star Tribune.

Paul Goldenberg, the director of Secure Community Network, the security affiliate of Jewish Federations of North America, told theJewish Telegraphic Agency that the bomb threats appeared to originate from the same serial caller. Noting that not every building that received a call decided to evacuate, he said that the community centers were very well-equipped to handle this. The centers also increased their security measures after the threats, the JCCA noted.

The weekend spate of anti-Semitic threats was not limited to the United States. In Canada, a 70-year-old Toronto woman named Helen Chaiton said that her mezuza, the case containing Hebrew verse traditionally affixed to a doorpost, had been vandalized twice over the weekend. Chaiton and her neighbors also found that the vandals had left behind sticky notes with swastikas, the CBC reported.

[Anti-Semitic jokes cause YouTube, Disney to distance themselves from PewDiePie]

Responding to an inquiry from NBC Newsabout the threats, the White House tweeted back: Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom. The President has made it abundantly clear that these actions are unacceptable.

The tweet from Ivanka Trump, a convert to Judaism, appeared to be unsolicited and drew generally favorable reaction, but also questions about why her father, the president, seemed reluctant to speak out.

The ADLissued a statementon Feb. 16,characterizingTrumps news conference reaction as mind-boggling.

On two separate occasions over the past two days, President Trump has refused to say what he is going to do about rising anti-Semitism or to even condemn it, the ADL said in the statement. This is not a partisan issue. Its a potentially lethal problem and its growing.

And after the new rash of phoned-in threats Monday, theorganizations chief executivedrew a connection between the incidents and the presidential silence. A lack of attention to this from the president creates an environment in which the bigots feel empowered, Greenblatt, of the ADL, told Haaretz. They feel like their intolerance is being tolerated.

John Wagner contributed to this report.

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After weekend of anti-Semitic acts, Clinton urges Trump to ‘speak out’ – Washington Post

Jewish History is Under Siege in the Middle East and These Volunteers Are Risking Their Lives to Protect It – Newsweek

On a sunny morning in February 2016, Sami Solmaz, a Kurdish filmmaker from Turkey, took a ride with Kurdish forces from the Iraqi town of Sinjar to the front lines. He spent the day filming gun battles between Kurdish fighters and the Islamic State militant group for a documentary he was making on ISIS attacks against religious minorities. That afternoon, as he was heading back to town, he heard a soldiers voice crackle over his drivers radio: Be careful! ISIS is firing chlorine bombs into Sinjar.

The militant group had been launching homemade rockets filled with chemicals toward Sinjar since Kurdish forces pushed them out of the town in late 2015. Earlier in February, a chemical attack in Sinjar had left Kurdish fighters sick, and Solmaz knew it was best to stay away. The only problem: His drivers car was in town, and so they decided to hurry back and retrieve it. We were only there 10 minutes, but you could smell [the gas], he tells Newsweek.

Try Newsweek for only $1.25 per week

On his way out of Sinjar, Solmazs face began to swell and his throat started to burn as he drove toward the Iraqi city of Duhok, where he fell into a deep sleep at his sisters apartment and awoke more than 20 hours later. When he was feeling better, he emailed Jason Guberman, the director of Digital Heritage Mapping, a nonprofit hed been helping in New York, to apologize for slipping out of touch.

Guberman was relying on Solmaz, an atheist from a Muslim family, to document Jewish heritage sitesfrom synagogues and cemeteries to ruins of schools, houses and community centers Jews once used in the Middle East and North Africa. For years, his staff and a rotating cast of about a dozen interns and volunteers have been racing to create digital records of Jewish sites. The projects name is Diarna, which means our home in Judeo-Arabic. As wars in the region destroy these sites, Gubermans team is running out of time.

In his office near Manhattans Union Square, Guberman has created a situation room that has been stripped of cubicles and lined with marked-up maps of Yemen, Iraq, and the Syrian cities ofAleppo and Damascus. This enables the team to prioritize the most at-risk areas and dispatch researchers, like Solmaz, into the field when moments of peace create opportunities. To create realistic renderings of the sites, Diarna has recruited a network of volunteer photographers and paid researchers through social media and word of mouth in countries like Yemen, Syria and Iran. Most live and work in the region and can access dangerous areas more easily than Americans or non-Muslims.

Read more:How the new monument men are outsmarting ISIS

Back in New York, his staff uses SketchUp, a 3-D modeling tool, to transform photographs from the field into digital models of the ancient buildings and plot them, according to their coordinates, on Google Earth. They also look for people familiar with the siteslike former congregants of synagogues, or the architects who renovated themwho can recall details about their appearance. Their recollections about anythingfrom whether the flooring was made of tile, wood or carpet to whether the buildings were lit with stained glass, skylights or chandeliershelp Diarna researchers create more accurate 3-D images and descriptions of the sites. Diarna often shares the witnesses raw recorded testimonies to bring online exhibits to life. Unlike other organizations doing similar kinds of work, Diarna makes its 3-D models publicly accessible.

When Diarna launched, Guberman estimated his team would identify between 500 and 1,000 sites to plot on Google Earth; the number has now surpassed 1,600.

Solmaz, who was in Iraq to collect footage for his film about ISIS, offered to visit abandoned Jewish villages for Guberman. The two had met in the summer of 2014 at the Center for Jewish History in New YorkSolmaz was there to inquire about using the buildings archives to research a documentary about Kurdish Jews, which he would be filming in Syria and Iraq. He wound up in Diarnas office, where he and Guberman chatted about his interest in Jewish culture. Solmaz had grown up in Turkeys southeast, and his grandparents had told him stories about the minorities who no longer lived thereJews, Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians. By the time Solmaz was born in 1963, Ottoman and Turkish authorities had massacred or deported most of them in campaigns to Turkify the nation in its violent early days, a part of his countrys history that he thought about often in his work as a war correspondent and independent filmmaker.

An Israeli youth lies on an Israeli flag during the annual pilgrimage to the tomb of Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzeira in the southern Israeli town of Netivot in January 2015. Thousands of Jews mostly of Moroccan origin came to pray over the respected Kabbalist rabbi. Oded Balilty/AP

As Guberman listened, he realized he might be able to recruit Solmaz to help Diarna. But doing so would be dangerous. Syrias civil war was in its third year, and ISIS was taking over major cities and towns in Iraq. Guberman worried that Solmaz could be captured, kidnapped or killed, especially if ISISor the Syrian regimediscovered his links to an American nonprofit with a Jewish cause. We actually tried to discourage him, says Guberman, but he wanted to go. The two men agreed to stay in touch.

What had started as a chance meeting in a quiet museum would soon become a vital partnershipspanning oceans and war zonesto preserve ancient history before it vanishes.

A month after their first meeting, Solmaz returned to Gubermans office with a file of photographs. The images showed the ruins of a Jewish village in the mountains separating Iraq from Turkey, near the headquarters of the Kurdistan Workers Party; the insurgent group is at war with Turkey and the target of frequent Turkish bombing campaigns. Guberman hadnt told him to go there because hed assumed it was too dangerous. Jason was shocked, Solmaz recalled. He said, How were you able to get this?

Over the next two and a half years, Solmaz planned multiple trips to Iraq, northern Syria, Turkey, Israel and Greece, always allaying Gubermans concerns about safety. Jason, I can go there, I am Kurdish, hed tell him. Or Im a war correspondent, dont worry.

The arrangement has been mutually beneficial. Solmaz hikes mountains, cajoles locals and travels to war zones to find the endangered sites Diarna wants to preserve on the internet. In return, Diarna pays him for photographs, videos and reports, which Solmaz often finds useful for his projects.

A Diarna expedition photo shows the exterior of the Tomb of Nahum in Alqosh, Iraq. Diarna

When Diarna launched in 2008, most Jewish synagogues, schools and cemeteries in the Middle East and North Africa had been out of use for decades, and many had fallen into disrepair. Most of the estimated 1 million Jews who lived between Morocco and the Arabian Sea abandoned their homelands to escape anti-Semitic violence in the 1950s and 60s. Now wars in Yemen, Iraq and Syria, along with the emergence of ISIS, which has been attacking ancient sites with pickaxes and dynamite, pose a real threat to preserving the Middle Easts ancient history.

As destroying sacred sites has become increasingly common in the Middle East, analysts, countries and even some militants have come to see the costs of destroying them. In September, an Islamist militant became the first person convicted of a war crime for destroying cultural and religious sites in Mali. At his trial at the Hague in the Netherlands, Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, who was sentenced to nine years in prison, urged other combatants to refrain from destroying cultural sites, saying such acts are not going to lead to any good for humanity.

Experts on ancient cultures say there is universal value in preserving sacred heritage sights of any religion. All cultures and societies have sacred sites, and these sacred sites are related to concepts of who we are, where we came from and where we are going, says Richard Leventhal, the director of the Cultural Heritage Center at the University of Pennsylvanias Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. ISISs methodical destruction of holy sites serves a very important purpose for the group. ISIS is not just trying to wipe people off the face of the earth by killing them, says Leventhal, they are also destroying their history.

Under pressure from multiple enemies on multiple fronts, ISIS has been losing territory in Syria and Iraq. Their retreat is slowly revealing the extent of their destruction. The group has targeted religious sites from all faiths within the land it occupied. During the organizations 2014 and 2015 rampage against symbols of idolatry, according to its corruptedversion of Islam, the militants blew up the Mosque of the Prophet Jonah in Mosul. The mosque was one of several sites said to house Jonahs tomb, an important monument for Muslims, Christians and Jews. It seemingly should have been protected because it was inside a Sunni mosque, but they blew it up anyway, Guberman says. So at that point we knew that no site is safe.

But Jews have an unusually deep level of experience with violent enemies doing all they can to wipe out their history. Guberman did not want what happened in World War II in Europethe Nazis destroying hundreds of synagogues to happen in the Middle East. Without physical evidence of Jewish culture, the worlds understanding of Jewish communities in the Arab world will disappear with the death of the last generation who can remember them.

Guberman sees a special significance in his work for the worlds Jews whose heritage begins in Iraq. I mean, this is where all Jewish history comes from, he says. According to Jewish tradition, all Jews trace their lineage to Abraham, the father of monotheism who was born in the Babylonian city of Ur, now in present-day Iraq. Religious scholars say that Abraham and his descendants began to disperse across the Middle East in the 19th century B.C. Population estimates show that the majority of the worlds Jews remained in the region through the Middle Ages. As recently as the early 1900s, nearly 1 million of the worlds estimated 15 million Jews were still living across the Middle East and North Africa, some in Jewish communities with roots in antiquity.

But Israels founding in 1948 led to violence from Muslim mobs and discriminatory policies implemented by local governments aimed at Jews in the Arab world, prompting almost all of them to leave. Most initially went to Israel, which spearheaded their mass emigration through a series of famous missions like the 1949 Magic Carpet airlift that spirited 50,000 Yemenite Jews to Israel, and a subsequent operation that nearly emptied Iraq of its Jewish population. The Jews left; their ancient synagogues remained.

In 2008, when Guberman was finishing his degree in political science at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, and wondering what to do next, only about 5,000 Jews remained in North Africa and the Middle East, outside of Israel. Without a Jewish community left to care for them, hundreds of sacred sites were converted into mosques, housing and other structures, or ignored as their roofs caved in and engravings faded.

A Diarna expedition photo shows a child’s grave in a Jewish cemetery in Tangier, Morocco, in 2011. Joshua Shamsi for Diarna Geo-Museum

Guberman considered applying to law school, but he changed his mind after speaking to a friend who had recently returned from a trip to Morocco. His wife is part Moroccan-Jewishand they had just had a daughter. He was very concerned about how his daughter was going to connect with her Moroccan-Jewish heritage when she grew upbecause so much history had already disappeared, Guberman says.

His friends concern piqued his interest. Guberman had always been drawn to Mizrahi (or Eastern) Jewish history and he was surprised by how little attention it received compared with that of Jews in Europejust a paragraph, he recalls, in a college textbook. Guberman and a small group of friends decided to devote themselves to its preservation.

Gubermans Bubbie offered free food and internet to her grandson and his colleagues in Connecticut when they started. The group soon secured enough funding from Karin Douglas, a philanthropist and fellow Sacred Heart graduate, to move out of Bubbies house and launch Digital Heritage Mapping, which would fuel the Diarna project. By late 2008, Gubermans small team was beginning to make renderings of sites in the precarious physical world to preserve forever on the internet. Guberman and his small team of researchers used Google Earth to map the ruins of Jewish villages that had dotted northern Iraq from antiquity through the early 20th century; an 800-year-old cemetery outside of Marrakesh, Morocco, nearly lost to a development project became a virtual exhibit online; Diarnas website published photographs of the tomb of Judeo-Moroccan mystic Rabbi Yaakov Abuhatzera in the Nile Delta, before Egypts government banned an annual pilgrimage to the site in 2014 over tensions between locals and Jewish visitors.

Jason Guberman gives a lecture showing a 3-D rendering from the Diarna Geo Museum. Tracy Deer-Mirek/Diarna

Many places were still off limits when Diarna started its project, some three years before the Arab Spring uprisings toppled dictators in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. Many of those autocrats clung to anti-Semitic policies. Libya under Muammar el-Qadda was particularly difficult to access for researchers working for a Jewish nonprofit. Qaddafi was notoriously anti-Semiticcanceling all debts owed to Jews, among other thingsand Diarnas efforts to recruit local researchers failed. Libyans were too nervous to be associated with a Jewish organization, Guberman explained.

But when the Arab Spring began in Tunisia in 2010, Diarna saw a unique opening.

When fighting erupted in Libya, for example, reporters descended on the country, including one familiar with Diarnas work. She contacted Guberman, offering to help him. Her only condition was anonymity.

In May 2011, Guberman sent her a map of the Hara Kabira, the old Jewish quarter in Tripoli, to help her locate the Dar Bishi synagogue, the most beautiful in the city when it opened in 1928. After Qaddafi took power in the late 1960s, the government seized and shuttered all Jewish property in Libya. Guberman hoped the reporter could find a way to survey it without raising the suspicion of the government, which was keeping an eye on foreign journalists in the city. Somehow, she slipped out of her hotel and made it there. She entered the crumbling structure through a hole in the back wall and took pictures of its gutted, columned interior, strewn with trash and vandalized by graffiti. She sent the photos to Guberman when she was safely out of the country.

The interior of the abandoned Dar Bishi synagogue in Tripoli, Libya on September 28, 2011. Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty

Guberman was cautiously optimistic that the rebels who ousted Qaddafi in 2011 might make it easier to access Jewish sites. A Libyan Jew named David Gerbi tested those expectations a few months later by returning to Tripoli from exile in Italy to restore the Dar Bishi synagogue. From New York, Guberman closely followed the news of Gerbis dramatic entrance to the holy site as the Libyan used a sledgehammer.

Guberman wondered how locals would react. He soon found out. A group of protesters opposed to the synagogues restoration gathered in central Tripoli with signs denouncing Zionism and some declaring there is no place for Jews in Libya. Fearing for his safety, Gerbi abandoned his project and returned to Italy, signaling to Guberman that the obstacles he faced researching Jewish sites under Qaddafi would likely remain. As he puts it: We realized that probably nothing good is going to come of doing work in Libya.

Gubermans team published a 3-D model of the once-stately structure on Google Earth, using photographs and coordinates the female reporter had taken. They also used her photographs to make a video tour of the model.

The latter may turn out to be among the only proof the site ever existed.

As governments collapsed across the region, threats to buildings multiplied. One of the higher-profile Jewish heritage sites lost to the fighting in Syria was the centuries-old Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in a suburb of Damascus. The synagogue is named for the prophet Elijah, whose appearance, Jews believe, will herald the coming of the Messiah. According to local tradition, Elijah anointed his successor on the site where the synagogue was built. Still well maintained when the war in Syria began, it appeared in photos published by The Daily Beast in 2014 as piles of rubbleits fine carpets, chandeliers and library of religious texts apparently gone.

Eddie Ashkenazie, a Diarna researcher from Brooklyn with roots in Syria, has been closely following the destruction. He felt a new determination in his work after watching aerial footage shot in the ancient Syrian city of Homs in 2015 that showed block after block of bombed-out buildings.

Ashkenazie has been scouting out Brooklyn synagogues with Syrian congregants whose memories of Jewish sites might still be fresh. I tell them what I do, and they’re like, Oh, bring us your pictures tomorrow, bring us your maps, he says. Just yesterday, after prayer services a group of men helped me [locate] synagogues in Damascus. After the meeting, he returned to his office and added the synagogues to Diarnas expanding database of sites.

A small number of Jews still live in Damascus, Syrias capital, some of whom have helped Diarna document sites. But the material hasnt yet been published due to concerns of drawing unwanted attention to the shrinking community and their lesser-known sacred sites. Wherever there is a community, Guberman says, their lives take precedence over our documentary mission.

Over the past few years, the last Jews in Syriaand much of the wider regionhave left. In 2015, in a controversial operation, Israeli-American businessman Moti Kahana smuggled Aleppos remaining Jewish residents to Israel through Turkey. In 2016, the Jewish Agency for Israel airlifted a family that made up 19 of Yemens roughly 85 Jews to Israel. Tunisian Jews have migrated recently too, as attacks have made the country less safe. When the last people leave, Guberman said, it is just a matter of time before the sites will be repurposed or destroyed.

On a recent stopover in his native Turkey, Solmaz clicked through images on his computer, each one illustrating the precariousness of Jewish heritage in Iraq. In a stone synagogue in Gondik, a small village in the northern Kurdish region of Iraq, hay covered the floors to feed the livestock who now occupy it. In another picture, taken in Kirkuk, fresh bullet holes marked the walls of a Muslim familys home whose central feature revealed its Jewish pastan elaborate niche built into the wall for a Torah.

Solmaz plans to return to Iraq once Kurdish and Iraqi forces push ISIS out of Mosul, another city that was once home to thousands of Jews. More recently Mosul was home to tens of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities who fled their homes ahead of ISISs advance. For his own work, Solmaz will document the damage the jihadis have caused to the citys non-Muslims and the architecture they left behind. For Diarna, he will look much further back in time, for evidence of a small Jewish community that endured for centuries in Mosul before fleeing persecution in the early 20th century.

To understand the present, Solmaz says, you have to know your past.

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Jewish History is Under Siege in the Middle East and These Volunteers Are Risking Their Lives to Protect It – Newsweek

Amid growing calls for action, Trump addresses JCC threats, anti-Semitism – CBS News

Last Updated Feb 21, 2017 10:23 AM EST

Under growing pressure to address threats against the Jewish community following another wave of bomb threats called into Jewish Community Centers around the country Monday, President Trump broke his silence on the issue Tuesday morning.

After previously deflecting a number of questions about the apparent rise in anti-Semitic incidents, Mr. Trump chose to address the issue at the end of his visit Tuesday to the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

This tour was a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms, the president said. 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 still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.

His remarks followed days of increasing attention to the problem and weeks of anxiety within the Jewish community.

2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted Tuesday morning that the president should speak out against these incidents himself.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) also called on the administration to address these threats. The group issued a statement saying that the threats themselves are alarming, disruptive and must always be taken seriously, despite the fact that all of the threats so far have turned out to be hoaxes.

Later in the day, the presidents daughter, Ivanka Trump, tweeted about the bomb threats.

On Monday, a White House official put out this statement: Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom. The President has made it abundantly clear that these actions are unacceptable.

The head of the ADL, Jonathan Greenblatt, suggested on Twitter that Mr. Trump should speak out against the threats himself.

The situation Monday marked the fourth time in which bomb threats were called into JCCs across the country, bringing the total to 69 threats at 54 JCCs across the country in 27 states. They have all been hoaxes.

Mr. Trump dodged questions about a rise in anti-Semitismlast week at two White House press conferences. On Thursday, for example, a Jewish reporter asked the president how the administration plans to address the issue and instead of answering it, Mr. Trump told the reporter to sit down and said it was not a fair question, then declared I am the least anti-Semitic person that youve ever seen in your entire life.

CBS News Rebecca Kaplan contributed to this report.

2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Amid growing calls for action, Trump addresses JCC threats, anti-Semitism – CBS News

Trump at African-American History Museum Denounces Anti-Semitism and Racism: ‘It Has to Stop’ –

President Donald Trump on Tuesday denounced the recent rise in bomb threats against Jewish community centers across the country, saying the anti-Semitism and racism that continue to afflict America must be addressed.

“Anti-Semitism is horrible, and it’s gonna stop and it has to stop,” Trump told NBC News in an exclusive interview, after touring the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

Federal authorities have been investigating a wave of phoned-in bomb threats to at least 10 Jewish community centers, including in Alabama, Ohio, Illinois, Texas and New York. No one was injured, and the threats appeared to be hoaxes, the Jewish Community Center Association of North America told NBC News on Monday.

The new spate of threats has brought the total number to almost 70 since the beginning of the year, according to the association.

In a separate count of hate crime incidents, the Southern Poverty Law Center found nearly 2,000 in the 34 days after the November election expressing anti-Semitic and other bias-related harassment.

“I think it’s terrible,” Trump said of the anti-Semetic threats. “I think it’s horrible. Whether it’s anti-Semitism or racism or any anything you wanna think about having to do with the divide. Anti-Semitism is, likewise, it’s just terrible.”

He added, “You don’t know where it’s coming from, but I hope they catch the people.”

Related: Muslims and Jews Band Together Against Hate

When asked about his immigration executive orders that have caused a measure of chaos at airports and have now been partially blocked by federal courts pending new orders which could come out as early as Tuesday Trump said he was focused on safety, and love.

“We have to have a safe country,” he said. “We have to let people come in that are going to love the country. This is about love. This building is about love. And we have to have people come in that are going to love the country, not people that are gonna harm the country.”

The president’s comments come after he sidestepped a question at a press conference last week about personally rebuking anti-Semitism, instead choosing to brand himself as “the least anti-Semitic” person in America.

Trump’s remarks Tuesday were met with stinging criticism from Steven Goldstein, the executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, as a Band-Aid and a “pathetic asterisk of condescension.”

“Make no mistake: The Anti-Semitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration,” Goldstein said in a statement, adding, “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.”

President Donald Trump views an exhibit on slavery during the American revolution while visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington on Feb. 21, 2017. Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

During his tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Trump was shown an exhibit on slavery during the American Revolution. He was joined by eldest daughter Ivanka and two black members of his team: Housing and Urban Development secretary nominee Ben Carson and administration official Omarosa Manigault.

The museum includes an exhibit about Carson’s humble beginnings in Detroit to his rise as a neurosurgeon and eventual Republican presidential candidate.

Trump later told reporters that he plans to visit the Holocaust Museum and going is “very important to me.”

To kick off Black History Month, Trump held a round-table meeting with African-American leaders at the White House in early February. At the time, he lauded the African-American history museum, which opened on the National Mall last fall, as a place where people can learn about prominent civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Frederick Douglass.

As a candidate in October, Trump pledged a “new deal for black America,” which included putting more police on the streets and targeting “blighted communities” with “disaster designation” in order to spur the transformation of urban cities.



During his first month in office, Trump’s administration has been

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Trump at African-American History Museum Denounces Anti-Semitism and Racism: ‘It Has to Stop’ –

Trump says antisemitism is ‘horrible’ and has to stop – Jerusalem Post Israel News

US President Donald Trump denounced antisemitism in the United States in an interview on Tuesday after he was asked about a spate of threats to Jewish community centers around the country.

“I will tell you that antisemitism is horrible and it’s going to stop and it has to stop,” Trump said in an interview with NBC.

“JCC threats, cemetery desecration & online attacks are so troubling & they need to be stopped,” she wrote on Twitter. “Everyone must speak out, starting w/ @POTUS.”

On Monday, vandals damaged and knocked-over more than 100 headstones at a St. Louis-area Jewish cemetery.

Also on Monday, 11 Jewish community centers across the United States were targeted with false bomb threats, the fourth such wave of harassing phone calls in five weeks.

The White House responded to a reporters query about the latest string of bomb threats called in to Jewish community centers by saying these actions are unacceptable.

Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom, read a statement, attributed to White House press secretary Sean Spicer, that was shared Monday afternoon by NBC News correspondent Peter Alexander. The President has made it abundantly clear that these actions are unacceptable.

The statement did not specify that the threats targeted Jewish institutions, although it came in reply to a query about threats to JCCs.

Alexander posted Spicers response on Twitter, adding, @PressSec responds to my request for comment about wave of threats to Jewish community centers.

Separately, Trumps daughter, Ivanka, who is Jewish, condemned the threats in a Tweet that pointed to the fact that the targets were Jewish.

America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance, she said. We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers. She ended the tweet with the hashtagged acronym for Jewish community center, #JCC.

Last week, President Donald Trump was asked during a news conference about the prior JCC bomb threats and what the governments response would be to an uptick in antisemitism. Although the reporter did not suggest Trump was anti-Semitic, the president answered by denying he is an anti-Semite and called the question insulting.

Shortly afterward, various Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, urged the White House to issue an unequivocal denunciation of the bomb threats and other antisemitic acts.

JTA contributed to this report.

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Trump says antisemitism is ‘horrible’ and has to stop – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Trump: Of course I condemn anti-Semitism – Hot Air

posted at 10:01 am on February 21, 2017 by Ed Morrissey

We have to have a safe country, Donald Trump told MSNBCs Craig Melvin at the National Museum of African American History while answering the third question in a week about hate crimes aimed at Jews in America. Its age-old, Trump says, theres just something going on that doesnt allow it to fully heal. More broadly on bigotry and racism, Trump praised the museum for its work, and most of all its success:

Politico has more of Trumps direct response:

President Donald Trump on Tuesday decried anti-Semitism, calling it horrible and pledging to put an end to it.

I will tell you that anti-Semitism is horrible and its gonna stop and it has to stop, Trump told MSNBCs Craig Melvin during a visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Asked directly if he was denouncing anti-Semitism once and for all, Trump responded in the affirmative.

Oh, of course, he said. And I do it wherever I get a chance, I do it.

Trump also managed to fit it a supporting statement for his upcoming revised executive order on visa and refugee entry. This building is about love, Trump tells Melvin, and we have to have people come inthat are going to love the country.

Lets call this an example of the third time being the charm. The first two public occasions where the media asked questions about anti-Semitic attacks rising around the country, Trump took the questions personally as a criticism of his supporters. This time he took the question on a straightforward basis and offered a simple response that condemns those attacks. Interestingly, it was the explicitly progressive channel MSNBC that got the best response, perhaps a reflection of the venue in which it was asked. Undoubtedly the White House prepared for that question in this venue, and Trumps answer demonstrates that preparation can pay off.

Note: This post has been expanded as a breaking news item.

Update: Better clip from MSNBC added to the main post, and Ivanka Trump also sent out a message last night about the need to oppose anti-Semitism:

That was received by the Left about as well as youd expect.

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Trump: Of course I condemn anti-Semitism – Hot Air