What Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand About Anti-Semitism – The New Yorker

Hatred of Jews, like hatred of Muslims, is embedded more deeply in the Western consciousness than President Trump seems to understand.CreditPHOTOGRAPH BY OLIVIER DOULIERY / GETTY

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, President Trump said Tuesday at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, in Washington, D.C. He was referring, rather obliquely, to a spate of recent bomb scares and acts of vandalism, part of an uptick in hate crimes that has occurred since his arrival on the political scene. Trumps sentiment, however forced, was welcome, given the obtuseness, ambivalence, and even denial that have characterized his past responses to the problem. As a candidate and a President, he has seemed oddly untroubled by the license that anti-Semites derive from the us-against-them motif of his rants. But now, Trump says, the bigotry has to stop, and its going to stop.

Would that it were that simple. Anti-Semitism is not a run-of-the-mill example of hate and prejudice and evil, which is why contempt for Jews keeps showing up as a symptom of social stresseven now, and even in the United States. One neednt posit an eternal anti-Semitism, in Hannah Arendts warning phrase, to know that the imagination of the West has always defined itself positively against the negative other of Jewishness. That was blatantly the case in Germany in the sixteenth century, when Martin Luther characterized Jews as vermin within the German body politic, a pest in the midst of our lands. That belief ultimately came to flower, of course, in the exterminating anti-Semitism of Hitler, who saw the very existence of Jews as a mortal threat to the Thousand-Year Reich. But, as the Holocaust revealed, this fear infected both Nazi ideology and the broader Western consciousness. The crime of genocide may have been enacted by the Nazis, but Jews died as they did because the rest of Europeand America, tooexcluded them from moral concern.

Religious anti-Judaism, which became racial anti-Semitism, began long before Luther, stretching all the way back to the Gospels themselves. It is not just that Jews are labelled as Christs killers in the Passion narratives, but that Jesus is fully portrayed throughout the texts as fiercely opposed to his own Jewish people. (He came unto His own and His own received him not, John 1:11 says.) If Jesus was merciful, Jews were condemning; if Jesus was egalitarian, Jews were hierarchical; if Jesus was generous, Jews were greedy. Soon enough, Christians imagined that Jesus had never really been Jewish to begin with. Never mind that this was a terrible mistake of memory, that he was a faithful, law-observing, Shema-proclaiming Jew to the end, and that, Johns words notwithstanding, the only ones to receive Jesus in his lifetime were Jews. The imagined conflict persisted, and it informed the structure of Christian theologychurch against synagogue, New Testament against Old, Christian god of mercy against Jewish god of judgment. Down through the centuries, this positive-negative bipolarity formed the twin pillars of European consciousness, and, whenever the social equilibrium shook, Jews were targeted. When the targeting reached its genocidal peak, in the twentieth century, the old hatred was exposed once and for all.

Well, not quite for all. The Holocaust was a world-historic epiphany, but not to the Trump Administration, which last month erased the Holocausts most salient feature by deliberately omitting any reference to Jews from the White Houses official statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Trumps generalizing in that statementthe victims, survivors, heroeswholly ignored the fact that Hitlers industrialized death machine was created expressly to eliminate one particular people. To neglect that purpose is to restrict responsibility for the broad civilizational crime, with roots in the religious anti-Judaism of the Christian Church, to a small gang of Nazi thugs, as if no one else were guilty. Both the neglecting and the restricting are forms of Holocaust denial.

If it is too much for Trump to grasp anti-Semitism as the bug in the software of the West, it is not likely that he will see how his own Islamophobia comes from the same malicious code. When Christendom launched the Crusades, the holy wars that shaped Europe, in the eleventh century, Jews were the paradigmatic enemy inside (the infidel near at hand), and Muslims became the defining enemy outside (the infidel far away). Little wonder, then, that the First Crusade coincided with some of the earliest German pogroms, known as the Rhineland massacres. Within a few hundred years, the Spanish Inquisition had instituted its blood-purity laws, which lumped Muslims and Jews together in a new category of biological inferiority. In 1492 and 1502, first Jews and then Muslims were declared personae non gratae in Spain, facing forced conversion, expulsion, or death. The invention of racism in Europe, in other words, aligned neatly with the discovery of the New World and the advent of colonialism. Genocide and slavery followed.

Islamophobia is thus, to use the phrase that Edward Said applied to Orientalism, a strange secret sharer of Western anti-Semitism. This hidden alignment was particularly discernible in the ease with which the Cold War, with its ubiquitous, if subliminal, anti-Semitism, morphed into the clash of civilizations, with jihadists replacing Reds as figments of the American nightmare. Trump no doubt regards himself as an American original, but he is only the latest ringmaster of this binary circus. In fact, our temperamental President is bigotrys clich. Even the cult of white supremacy on which his movement depends has its origins, too, in the positive-negative structure of the Western imagination, a structure erected in the first place to keep Jews in their place. It may offend Donald Trump to be linked to an ancient current, but while his arrival, with all its mayhem, is an unprecedented crime against democratic values, it is also evidence of the deeper disorder from which our culture has yet to recover.

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What Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand About Anti-Semitism – The New Yorker

New Orleans JCC bomb threat follows wave of anti-Semitism in US – bestofneworleans.com

“The reported bomb threat at JCC deemed non-credible, is clear. FBI is investigating,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu wrote on Twitter. “Be clear, anti-Semitism will not be tolerated in NOLA.”

While the bombs themselves are “hoaxes,” the threats and waves of anti-Semitism across the U.S., as theJewish Community Center Association of North America has said, are very real. In a letter toDepartment of Homeland Security Director John Kelly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey. Florida U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy and New York U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley along withdozens of members of Congress and Jewish-led groups demanded swift federal action.

“Federal law enforcement agencies must do everything within their power to punish those responsible for the threats that have already taken place, to prevent future threats from occurring, and to ensure these threats are never converted into action,” Murphy said.”These phone calls have a severe economic, as well as emotional, impact.” According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), in 2016, there was”one anti-Semitic assault reported in this country every week, and at least two anti-Jewish incidents on average every single day.” The ADL’s Task Force on Harassment and Journalism counted from August 2015 to July 2016 nearly 3 million anti-Semitic tweets.

Over the last month, 53 centers in 26 states and one center in Canada received 68 calls, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The center counted 11 bomb threats on Feb. 20.

The administration of President Donald Trump delayed responding to the attacks and sidestepped questions about it during a Feb. 16 press conference. Trump cut off a question from Jake Turx, a reporter for Ami Magazine and the first Hasidic Jewish member of the White House press corps, who asked Trump how he plans to address the”uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government plans to take care of it.” Trump responded to the question as a personal attack.

“Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person you have ever seen in your entire life,” Trump responded. “Number two: racism. I am the least racist person … I hate the charge. I find it repulsive. I hate even the question.”

Another reporter later asked the same question; Trump suggested his opponents were responsible.

Finally, on Tuesday, Feb. 21, Trump called the threats “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.”By then there had already been dozens of threats delivered to JCCs around the U.S., Canada and United Kingdom.

Jewish Voice for Peace New Orleans (JVP), which helped organize a week of actions and presented a list of demands to city and state officials in the wake of Trump’s immigration order, said the administration is “flirting with anti-Semitism at the highest levels” in failing to name targets of the Nazi Holocaust and for defecting questions about anti-semitism in the U.S. by echoing Trump’s support for Israel.

“The Trump administration is proving, yet again, that it is quite possible to be anti-Semitic and support the Israeli government,” JVP’s statement reads. “It bears repeating, once again, that not all Jews support the Israeli government, and that Israel does not represent all Jews. …It is also of note the executive order targeting Muslims and refugees was signed on International Holocaust Memorial day. In doing so, the administration reminds us that fights against anti-semitism, racism and Islamophobia must go hand in hand.”

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New Orleans JCC bomb threat follows wave of anti-Semitism in US – bestofneworleans.com

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.

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

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.

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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.

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

Israel’s Netanyahu praises Trump’s condemnation of anti-Semitic acts – Reuters

JERUSALEM Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised President Donald Trump on Wednesday for publicly condemning anti-Semitic acts after bomb threats to U.S. Jewish centers and vandalism in a Jewish cemetery.

Trump’s comments on Tuesday were his first explicit condemnation of anti-Semitic incidents amid a wave of threats against Jews and their community centers. Instead, he spoke more generally about his hopes of making the nation less “divided.”

“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.” he told journalists.

“It’s very important that President Trump took a strong stand against anti-Semitism and it’s important that we all continue to do so in the years ahead,” Netanyahu, on an official visit to Australia, said in Sydney’s Central Synagogue.

A video of Netanyahu’s speech in the synagogue was posted on YouTube by Israel’s Government Press Office.

In Israel, some media commentators had pressed Netanyahu to speak out more strongly against anti-Semitism, in light of what they said had been Trump’s reluctance to do so.

A White House statement on International Holocaust Day last month without any clear reference to Jews or anti-Semitism was mentioned as an example of this perceived reluctance.

Netanyahu rushed to Trump’s defense at a joint news conference in Washington last week after the president appeared to sidestep an Israeli reporter’s question about anti-Semitic incidents in the United States.

“I’ve known the president and I’ve known his family and his team for a long time, and there is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than President Donald Trump. I think we should put that to rest,” Netanyahu said.

Several Jewish community centers in the United States were evacuated briefly on Monday after receiving bomb threats, the JCC Association of North America said. Another center was evacuated on Tuesday in San Diego, California, police said.

Vandals toppled about 170 headstones at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri over the weekend.

In Sydney, Netanyahu called for an international effort to combat “resurgent anti-Semitism” around the world.

“It is something that we need to fight together. I think this is important in Europe. It’s important in America,” he said.

(Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Ori Lewis and Tom Heneghan)

KUALA LUMPUR Malaysian police on Wednesday named a North Korean diplomat along with a state airline official who are wanted for questioning over the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea’s leader.

BEIRUT The Syrian army and its allies took a small district on the outskirts of Aleppo from rebels on Wednesday, a war monitor and a military media unit run by Damascus ally Hezbollah said.

PARIS An influential French centrist politician on Wednesday dropped out of the presidency race to form an alliance with independent candidate Emmanuel Macron – a potential game-changer in France’s tightly contested election.

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Israel’s Netanyahu praises Trump’s condemnation of anti-Semitic acts – Reuters

Hezbollah secretary general praises Iran for holding Palestinian Intifada conference – Press TV

A screenshot from footage broadcasted by the IRIB on February 21, 2017 showing the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movements Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah during an interview.

The Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movementsSecretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallahhas praised Irans support for Palestine at a time that other countries are siding with Israel.

During an interview with IRIB on Monday, Nasrallah stressed that Iran was sending a strong message of solidarity to the people of Palestine by hosting a conference in support of the Palestinian Intifada (uprising).

Tehran is set to host a two-day internationalconference on Palestine on Tuesday with 80 delegations from around the world expected to be in attendance.

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The most important result and message of this action for the Palestinian nation is that you have not been left alone and that an important and powerful country in the region supports you, he said.

He stressed that the timing of the conference is significant as it coincides with the recent policy changes in the US towards a so-called two-state solution.

During a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington earlier this week, US President Donald Trump ditched Washingtons decades-long policy of supporting a so-called two-state solution to the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.

Nasrallah noted that the USs move was significant as it ended Israels game of lies with the Palestinians and that he personally thought that it was a positive move as it showed everybody what the Tel Aviv regimes true intent was.

US troops on Syrian soil

A US military official recently suggested thatthe White Housemayauthorize sending combat troops to Syria. During his presidential campaign, Trump had openly supported deploying a large contingent of US troops to Syria.

Nasrallah stressed that such a move would without a doubt increase tensions and clashes within the war-torn country and further complicate an already complicated situation.

The US has already sent several hundred of its special operations forces to Syria. However, their operations have been limited to what the Pentagon describes as training and assisting Kurdish fighters in their battle against Daesh and other terrorist groups.

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Hezbollah secretary general praises Iran for holding Palestinian Intifada conference – Press TV

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

White House denounces threats to Jewish centers – CNN

The reaction is notable coming after weeks of criticism that the Trump administration has not been forceful enough to denounce acts of anti-Semitism that have occurred nationwide since his election.

“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,” said White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters.

President Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law are both Orthodox Jews, as are his grandchildren, something he mentions frequently. On Monday evening, Ivanka Trump tweeted, “America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers. #JCC”

Eleven bomb threats were reported by various centers on Monday alone, according to the JCC Association of North America.

David Posner, the director of strategic performance of the JCC Association of North America, said community centers across the US and Canada have received 69 threats at 54 centers since January. The organization is working with law enforcement and the FBI to investigate the threats.

“While we are relieved that all such threats have proven to be hoaxes and that not a single person was harmed, we are concerned about the anti-Semitism behind these threats, and the repetition of threats intended to interfere with day-to-day life,” Posner said in a statement. “Local JCCs serve not just the Jewish community, but the entire community. Participants from all different backgrounds come to their local JCCs for activities, Jewish cultural and religious programming, and opportunities to come together as a community.”

The Anti-Defamation League also spoke out against the threats Monday, saying in a statement it was “deeply disturbed” by them.

“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,” the statement said.

During a press conference last week, Trump himself was less clear about his position on the matter. When asked directly by a reporter for a Jewish publication about the rise in anti-Semitic threats, the President told the reporter to sit down, called the question insulting and responded by defending himself in hyperbolic terms.

“So here’s the story folks: No. 1, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. No. 2, racism. The least racist person. In fact, we did very well relative to other people running as a Republican.”

The White House also faced criticism on International Holocaust Remembrance Day last month when it omitted any mention of Jews or anti-Semitism in a statement marking the day.

White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks explained to CNN the statement omitted references to Jews because “despite what the media reports, we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered.”

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White House denounces threats to Jewish centers – CNN

Trump: Black History Museum a Tribute to ‘American Heroes’ – Voice of America

U.S. President Donald Trump visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington on Tuesday, calling it a beautiful tribute to so many American heroes.

The new president read the names of several prominent black figures from American history, saying, I’m deeply proud that we now have a museum that honors the millions of African American men and women who built our national heritage, especially when it comes to faith, culture and the unbreakable American spirit.”

He pledged to do everything I can to continue that promise of freedom for African Americans and for every American. So important, nothing more important. His visit came as the U.S. celebrates its annual Black History Month during February.

Trump said the fight for racial equality in the United States depicted at the museum is a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms. He condemned recent threats against Jewish centers in the U.S., calling them horrible and painful.

But he promised, as he has numerous occasions, Were going to bring this country together, maybe bring some of the world together.

WATCH: Trump visits museum

Popular tourist attraction

The museum, on the National Mall not far from the White House, opened last year and has drawn large crowds and wide critical acclaim. It has nearly 37,000 objects in its collection tracing the history of blacks in America, from their arrival on slave ships from Africa, to the mid-19th century Civil War fought over slavery, to the advances toward racial equality at the heart of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

There are exhibits about black communities, their families, the visual and performing arts, religion, civil rights, slavery, and legalized racial segregation that existed in the United States as recently as 50 years ago.

In his upset presidential election victory last November, Trump won just 8 percent of the black vote compared to 88 percent for his Democratic rival, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Trump was accompanied on his museum visit by the only African-American in his Cabinet, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who is awaiting confirmation as the presidents housing chief. The president promised to work closely with Carson to do great things in our African-American communities together.

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Trump: Black History Museum a Tribute to ‘American Heroes’ – Voice of America

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 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 chooses McMaster to replace Flynn as National Security Advisor

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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

Anne Frank Center Blasts Trump’s Limp Anti-Semitism Response – Huffington Post

President Donald Trumps statements condemning anti-Semitismare too little, too late, the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect said Tuesday.

The U.S. centers executive director, Steven Goldstein,slammed Trumps response as nothing but a Band-Aid and reminded Americans of his administrations history of turning a blind eye to past and present anti-Semitism.

His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting Antisemitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record, Goldstein said. Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration. The White House repeatedly refused to mention Jews in its Holocaust remembrance, and had the audacity to take offense when the world pointed out the ramifications of Holocaust denial.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump made his clearest denouncement of anti-Semitism yet,while touring the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and Jewish community centers are horrible and painful and a very sad reminder of the work that must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil, he said.

His comments come a day after Jewish Community Centers across the U.S. faced another wave of bomb threats, forcing evacuations in 10 states. But threats have been happening for a while; Jewish Community Center Association communications manager Marla Cohen told The Huffington Post on Monday that there have now been at least 67 incidents at 56 Jewish Community Centers in 27 states and one Canadian province since the start of 2017.

Trump shot down a Jewish reporters questions about those threats at a press conference last Thursday.

Sit down, the president told Jake Turx, a reporter for Orthodox Jewish weekly Ami Magazine, after telling him it was not a fair question.

When Turx attempted to interject, Trump fired back, Quiet, quiet, quiet, and called it a very insulting question.

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Anne Frank Center Blasts Trump’s Limp Anti-Semitism Response – Huffington Post

‘Israel, US Jewish leaders must reach out to Democrats’ – Jerusalem Post Israel News

The Israel and American flags side-by-side. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Israel and US Jewish leaders must make it their mission to reach out to Americans who support the Democratic Party, Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem on Monday.

Lapid issued the call in an answer to a young questioner, who told him about the difficulties in pro-Israel outreach at a time when US President Donald Trump is seen as pro-Israel and is despised by Americans on the Left side of the political map. He replied that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s image made the situation even more acute.

“We are at the risk of losing a generation,” Lapid said. “We can celebrate a friendly administration, but one of the sources of our strength in the US is to be bipartisan. The prime minister – and it isn’t his fault – is considered an Israeli Republican, so we have to do more to reach out to Democrats.”

Following last week’s meeting between Trump and Netanyahu in the White House, Lapid said the two-state solution was not dead and in fact there were new chances for advancing toward a regional diplomatic breakthrough.

“There is a huge window of opportunity, with an administration that is sympathetic to Israel,” Lapid said. “I think it’s an opening for Israel to define its own policies. We can negotiate with the Palestinians from a position of power we haven’t had in years. I don’t want to lose this window due to internal Israeli politics.”

Lapid ruled out taking unilateral steps, saying that Israel learned from the Gaza Strip disengagement, when he said Israel did what the world asked it to do that withdrawals must take place within the context of an agreement.

He called upon Trump to organize a regional conference to discuss the fate of the West Bank and Gaza, rather than facilitate another round of Israeli-Palestinian talks, which he said was “Einstein’s definition of madness,” because of all the times it failed before.

“We can’t trust the Palestinian leaders, so we need to have someone in between,” Lapid said.

Lapid said Israel should also ask the administration to recognize its sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

He pledged allegiance to the Reform and Conservative movements, saying “We have a responsibility to keep the Jewish people as one people.”

Noting the ongoing court case to force the Reform and Conservative movements to enforce the Western Wall deal, he noted that “the Jewish people are suing the Jewish state for freedom of religion in Israel.”

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Pence visits former Nazi concentration camp Dachau

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‘Israel, US Jewish leaders must reach out to Democrats’ – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Is anti-Semitism on the rise? Does anyone care? – Chicago Tribune

Its been a bad 2017 for Jews. During the month of January, 48 bomb threats were called in to Jewish community centers across the country. Also last month, a neo-Nazi made national news by promising to hold a march in Whitefish, Mont., to intimidate the towns small Jewish population.

It was thus unsurprising that two reporters were moved to ask President Donald Trump at Thursdays news conference about a rise in anti-Semitism and that many of us were aghast at Trumps rude dismissal of the first reporter, an Orthodox Jew, and Trumps unwillingness to take the question seriously.

But heres the thing: As bad as 2017 has been for anti-Semitic incidents, 2016 wasnt great, either. Nor was 2015, when the Anti-Defamation League reported 90 anti-Semitic incidents on campuses, twice as many as the year before a slow drip that has continued into this school year.

A journalist could stay very busy writing about anti-Semitic graffiti in higher ed and not at right-wing Christian schools, but at ostensibly liberal ones. Last August, students at Swarthmore College, the progressive Quaker college outside Philadelphia, found two swastikas painted on a stall in a bathroom of the main library. A week later, they found another swastika on a tree in the schools woods. There have been reports of anti-Semitic incidents at Oberlin College, the University of California at Los Angeles, Brown University and Northwestern University.

You may not have heard about any of this or, for that matter, about the multiple cases of anti-Muslim vandalism on campuses last year. Indeed, given how frequently students come across hateful graffiti, to merit widespread media attention the provocations have to be particularly crass, or committed by fraternities or soccer teams.

Some assume that since Nov. 9, the Trump administration has ushered in a new, shocking rise in anti-Semitism. Its an assumption that shows up not just at presidential news conferences but in numerous articles in the mainstream media. They rely on reports from the Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center and numerous liberal commentators, Jewish and not. Similar narratives have taken hold about anti-Muslim violence, anti-immigrant violence and misogyny. In each case, there are real anecdotes to back up these concerns as I know too well, because one of the Jewish community centers that received a bomb threat was the one where my daughters go to summer camp.

But it is not clear that we can accuse the president of ushering in a new era of heightened anti-Semitism. While there is real anti-Semitism, we have no government data available to show theres been a rise in anti-Semitism since Trumps election. And while its easy for some to blame Trump for all acts of bigotry, we should discern whats new from what were simply noticing for the first time. For those who believe that Trump poses a threat to Jews, all other minorities and all Americans its important that we get our facts right. If danger is on the rise, we have to be looking in the right direction.

Anti-Semitism is a complicated phenomenon, and it cant be reduced to some high-profile incidents. Those 48 phone calls could have been the product of one thrill-seeking sicko, or one plus a couple copycats. Its noteworthy, of course, that there were no actual attacks. And that march in Montana, which was supposed to terrify Jews throughout the land, never actually happened. What did happen was the nearby town of Great Falls, Mont., issued a moving declaration of support for the Jews of Whitefish, a resolution denouncing hate, bigotry, and intolerance, which today masquerade under euphemisms such as white nationalism and the alt-right.

In any case, there is no good statistical evidence (yet, anyway) that Americans have grown more anti-Semitic in recent months. There is, however, good evidence about the affection that most Americans feel toward Jews.

Recently, the Pew Research Center released a survey designed to gauge Americans feeling thermometer toward various religions. Pew asked more than 4,000 adults to say which religious groups they felt warm toward. The poll showed that Jews elicit the warmest feelings of any religious group. The finding was fairly consistent across all groups Catholics like Jews; mainline Protestants like Jews; atheists like Jews; and members of all age groups within those religions like Jews (although among those touchy-feely millennials, Buddhists garnered warmer feelings than Jews did).

Poll results that ask about warm feelings are, in their way, as inadequate a gauge of a peoples safety as a few dozen empty bomb threats in a country of more than 300 million people. And Jews sense of well-being ultimately doesnt come down to cold numbers, anyway. In Europe, whats chilling about the position of Jews is not so much the recent murders of Jews and attacks on synagogues and Jewish businesses but the widespread public indifference. Here in the United States, anti-Semitism is very much with us, and always has been: According to FBI statistics for 2014, of religiously motivated hate crimes, Jews were targeted 57 percent of the time. Muslims were the victims 16 percent of the time, followed by Catholics, Protestants and atheists/agnostics.

And Jews have to keep an eye out in all directions. On campuses, the perpetrators are often left-wing students whose hatred of Israel has led them into, or in some cases was always inextricable from, a hatred of Jews. Away from campuses, the anti-Semites are a motley mix of nativists, conspiracy theorists, twisted populists and the paranoid and delusional.

In the White House, the threat comes from those like Stephen K. Bannon who admire nativist strongmen. The blood-and-soil nationalism of men like Russian President Vladimir Putin, or women like Frances Marine Le Pen, is never good for Jews; even when they dont specifically target Jews, they attract strong support from more vigorous anti-Semites. On social media, we see anti-Semitism from anonymous trolls, and while we cant say anything about the sincerity or strength of their intentions, they are terrifying (to Jewish reporters, among others).

Overall, however, we wont know for many more months, when the FBI and the Anti-Defamation League have better data to work with, if Nov. 9, 2016, was the start of something new or just a continuation of a regrettable but enduring legacy. My best guess is that we are facing a continued march of the low-level, but ineradicable, Jew hatred that we always live with.

But for now, we Jews should worry less about whether attacks against us are on the rise, because its not clear whether they are. Thats not the most important question, because to any student of history its no comfort if anti-Semitic attacks arent on the rise. In many times and places, Jews have been the canary in the coal mine; when racist authoritarianism arrives, we Jews are among the first to sniff it in the air. But thats not true in this time and place. This isnt Germany in 1933. In the United States in 2017, the first to be targeted are Muslims or Mexicans after which they will probably come for Jews, gays, blacks and all the other apparent undesirables who irk Trumps angriest followers. The real question a reporter who cares about Jewish safety should ask Trump is about the health and safety of other minority groups.

Consider the right-wing parties in Poland, Hungary, Russia, France and elsewhere in Europe: None of them takes anti-Semitism as its central organizing principle. They all have other boogeymen, in many cases Muslims. But Hungarys Jobbik, the third-largest party in the country, is clearly anti-Semitic, and Polands nationalist government, with its revisionist World War II history, is worrisome. All of them attract the support of anti-Semites, and all of them could be expected, like Francisco Franco during World War II, to comfortably make common cause with anti-Semites.

Right-wing and nativist violence does not always begin with Jews. But by fixating on attacks against Jews, we are forgetting the cardinal rule of Jewish self-survival: It may not start with us, but it always ends with us.

Washington Post

Mark Oppenheimer hosts the podcast Unorthodox, Tablet Magazines weekly talk show and roundup of the news of the Jews.

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Is anti-Semitism on the rise? Does anyone care? – Chicago Tribune

Amid anti-Semitism row, Pence tours Nazi concentration camp – The Times of Israel

DACHAU, Germany US Vice President Mike Pence paid a somber visit to the site of the Dachau concentration camp on Sunday, walking along the grounds where tens of thousands of people were killed during World War II.

Pence was joined by his wife, Karen Pence, and the couples 23-year-old daughter, Charlotte, as they toured the exhibits at the former concentration camp that was established by the Nazis in 1933 near Munich.

The vice president was accompanied by Abba Naor, a survivor of the camp, and other dignitaries as he passed through the wrought iron gate bearing the inscription, Arbeit macht frei, or Work sets you free.

It was a miracle that we survived, Naor told the vice president and his family, describing a typical meal as a slice of bread.

The Pences placed a wreath beneath the International Memorial at the center of the camp, toured the barracks and viewed the ovens inside the crematorium.

The Pences also stopped at religious memorials at the site and later attended a church service on the camps grounds.

Moving and emotional tour of Dachau today, he tweeted on his official Twitter account. We can never forget atrocities against Jews and others in the Holocaust.

More than 200,000 people from across Europe were held at Dachau, and more than 40,000 prisoners died there. The camp was liberated by US forces in April 1945.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, center, his wife Karen, second from left, and his daughter Charlotte, left, are lead by Holocaust survivor Abba Naor, right, as they visit the former Nazi concentration camp in Dachau near Munich, southern Germany, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017, one day after he attended the Munich Security Conference. (Sven Hoppe/pool photo via AP)

Making his first overseas trip as vice president, Pence spoke to foreign diplomats and defense officials at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday and met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other world leaders.

Pence was traveling to Brussels later Sunday for meetings on Monday with NATO and European Union officials.

In 2015, then-US vice president Joe Biden visited the site with his granddaughter during a trip to Germany.

US Vice President Michael Richard Pence (2L), his wife Karen Pence (L) and his daughter Charlotte Pence look at the crematorium at the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site at the former Nazi concentration camp of Dachau, Germany, on February 19, 2017. (AFP Photo/Thomas Kienzle)

Pences visit to Dachau follows a recent outcry over US President Donald Trumps failure to mention the Jews in his statement for International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust, the president said in the statement. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.

US Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, left, lay a wreath during a visit to the former Nazi concentration camp in Dachau near Munich, southern Germany, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

When pressed why no mention was made of the 6 million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, the administration doubled down on its original statement, with Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks saying we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered, pointing to priests, gypsies, people with mental or physical disabilities, communists, trade unionists, Jehovahs Witnesses, anarchists, Poles and other Slavic peoples, and resistance fighters as other Holocaust victims.

In response to the statement, a number of US Jewish organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League condemned the administrations failure to mention the murder of Jews during the Holocaust, as well as the Zionist Organization of America and the Republican Jewish Coalition, both of which are generally sympathetic to Trump.

US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands during a joint press conference at the White House in Washington, DC on February 15, 2017. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

During a joint press conference with Trump on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the US president and his people against charges of anti-Semitism, saying there is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than Donald Trump.

Although Trump evaded a question from a reporter regarding rising anti-Semitism during the press conference, the US president acknowledged the suffering of the Jewish people during the Holocaust in his opening statement, saying we will never forget what the Jewish people have endured and hailing the Jews for their survival in the face of genocide.

Asked by ultra-Orthodox reporter Jake Turx during a press conference the next day how his administration planned to handle anti-Semitism, Trump grew furious and accused his questioner of dishonesty, seeming to mistakenly believe he was being accused of anti-Semitism. Trump referenced Netanyahus support and insisted, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you have ever seen in your entire life.

Following the incident, Turx defended Trump, telling Fox News that its very unfair whats been done to him and I understand why hes so defensive. And Im with him when it comes to being outraged about him being charged with this anti-Semitism.

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Amid anti-Semitism row, Pence tours Nazi concentration camp – The Times of Israel

Public Schools, Bibi, and Sports: Letters to the Editor Tablet … – Tablet Magazine

In response to Talmud to Betsy DeVos: Yes, We Need Public Schools by Adam Kirsch:

I am a big fan of Adam Kirschs Talmud column, and usually enjoy readings views on this monumental and highly complex work that has kept our people preoccupied for over a 1,000 years. Even if his views are cursory, they are fresh and I think positive. This week, however, was exceptional.

The Talmuds says clearly that, as Kirsch quotes, if not for Rabbi Yehoshua ben Gamla, Torah would have been forgotten from the Jewish people. In short, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Gamlas work had nothing at all to do with public schools because he was interested in only one thing: ensuring a Torah education. Without his institution, too many children in that era would have been lost to our heritage and we would not be here to talk about the Talmud today. When Agudath Israel and other Orthodox organization take a strong stance pro vouchers, they are fully following in the footsteps of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Gamla. They are fighting the battle to ensure that it is not difficult for any parent to make the choice to send their child for a Torah education. Just as Rabbi Yehoshua ben Gamla knew that expecting parents to send children away from home for education would make the burden of education too great, these organizations know that school choice and vouchers will lighten the burden of a Torah education and ensure that many parents will now be freer to make such a choice.

Does Adam Kirsch honestly believe that the Talmud or Rabbi Yehoshua ben Gamla, with their single minded and heroic efforts to ensure Jewish continuity through Torah learning and Torah education, would approve of Jews fighting again Jewish groups trying to get whatever help they can for Torah education, in the name of helping public schools? If anything the Rabbis would bemoan that a man as intelligent and capable as Kirsch, without a complete Jewish education, can only read his peoples most sacred works in a foreign and often shallow translation, without the life, complexity and deep analysis that a nine year old yeshiva kid who delves in the sea that is the Talmud.

As an aside to the debate, I weigh in by opining that the Jewish people are suffering an onslaught of assimilation and loosing the vast majority of unaffiliated Jews and even reform Jewish youth due to their complete lack of Jewish education. As noble as the ideals of caring about society is, and as free as any Jew is to take that stand, the Talmud certainly cannot be brought as weighing in on the side of restricting tax money that Jewish day school parents pay from going to their own schools. Too many Jews take the concerns of every group around them to their hearts. This is commendable, but let us not forget that if we Jews are not their for our own brother, our own education, our own continuity, no one will be and we will disappear from history. Let us not forget that before Hillel says, If I am for myself, what am I? he states clearly, If I am not for myself, who will be?

R. Adler

In response to Whats Mine is Mine by Alana Newhouse:

Well said!

Al Averbach, San Francisco

In response toAn Open Letter to Robert Kraft by Matthew Fishbane:

Many thanks for your excellent letter to Mr. Kraft. We hope that it goes from your pen to Mr. Krafts ears and to his heart and mind! Todah rabah!

Phyllis and Archie Nahman

In response to The Arab-ization of American Politics byLee Smith:

In my opinion, the Womens March comes out of this tradition and cannot be relegated as Mr. Smith alludes, to as 60s nostalgia. Jews have often held rallies for their politically/culturally-specific causes like the rallies during the 1930s (and protest theatre once again as in Ben Hechts pageants in New York, Chicago and Boston and performative events) that were against Hitlers rise in Germany, along with the Free Soviet Jewry rallies in the 60s and 70s, and the rally that drew I believe (needs research) about 250,000 to D.C. in the 80s when Reagan brought Gorbachev to meet and Elie Wiesel made it a cause to support (as he had done earlier in his career).

Also, in a way that may not be intendedfrom the title to the content I think the article as it is written is a form of demonization. I have read articles by Mr. Smith before and though I often dont often agree with him, but I have respect for his broad knowledge that he brings to his chosen subjects. But demonizing Arabs, unintended or not, is both unseemly and even racist. In todays toxic environment around identity and politics it is a volatile mix. I have found myself more towards Mr. Smith in his most recent articles on Trump and I think he is a valuable voice providing other viewpoints than mine and providing some balance.

I respect Tablet and all you do and your inclusive approach to this intercultural world that we live in.

David Y. Chack, Chicago, IL

In response toTheo Epsteins Cubs Recognized as Champions at the White House by Jonathan Zalman

This article begins with a thinly-veild swipe at outgoing President Barack Obama. While the observances at end of Obamas tenure may be seemingly endless to the writer, that is not the case for many. As this snide comment is not particularly relevant to the otherwise interesting article, I question the authors motivation.

If it was meant humorously, Im sorry that I dont find it funny enough to merit its inclusion. Was Mr. Zalman so bored by these last few weeks and so eager to vent his anger about it that he simply could not remain civil? Is it possible that he was oblivious to his insult? I would very much like to understand.

I wanted to shared this piece on various social media outlets, as I often do with Tablet articles. Unfortunately, this rude comment did not meet my standards for what I can endorse. And I dont think my standards are all that high or anything to brag about! If someone with my admittedly low expectations found this objectionable, who else is also annoyed? Or was the intent to make the slap so oblique that few would notice?

Sincerely,

Daniel Kasnitz, Vermont

Here is the original post:
Public Schools, Bibi, and Sports: Letters to the Editor Tablet … – Tablet Magazine

The terror-filled face of "Palestine" – Arutz Sheva

When Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke with President Trump at the White House press conference on February 15 he spoke about the inadmissibility of forcing Israel to live alongside a terrorist state of Palestine as the result of a global effort to establish a Palestinian state.

Ignored by people advocating a two-state solution is the clear and present danger of Hamas in Gaza and the ‘West Bank’ and the terror face of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority.

It is an inconvenient truth for international diplomats pressuring Israel to withdraw from the ‘West Bank’ that Hamas has a growing presence there.

Evidence of that has been seen at Bir Zeit University where Hamas-affiliated students overwhelmingly won the student body election in February 2017.

Bir Zeit happens to be not in Gaza but just eight kilometers north of the once stronghold of Fatah in Ramallah where the Palestinian Authority holds tentative sway.

What happens when, by the ballot or by the bullet, Hamas usurps power in a future Palestinian state. The Palestinian Authority is busy arresting Hamas members and the Israeli security forces are constantly intercepting Hamas terror cells and arresting their budding terrorists in the ‘West Bank.’

A much discussed issue in Israeli national security and strategic think tanks is what happens when, by the ballot or by the bullet, Hamas usurps power in any future Palestinian state.

Israel demands that any Palestinian state must be demilitarized. This request will be as futile as was the Jewish states appeal that UN forces keep militant Hezbollah terrorists from southern Lebanon following Israels withdrawal in 2000. Today, Hezbollah has an estimated 120,000 missiles ready to launch at Israel stored in homes and bunkers along Israels northern border. They have constructed a network of interconnecting terror tunnels that make Hamass tunnel system in Gaza look like a rabbit warren by comparison.

The same applied to the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Despite the destruction inflicted on them in their 2014 war against Israel, Hamas has replenished much of their armory and missiles, trained a new army of radical terrorists and are feverishly constructing new stronger terror tunnels with cement provided to them from Israel.

Now, Hamas has elected one of the most extreme radical terrorists they can choose to lead them in Gaza and their affiliates in the ‘West Bank.’

55 year old unrepentant terrorist, Yahya Sinwar, served 22 years in an Israeli prison on serious terrorism charges. He was released as part of a huge scale prisoner release by Israel for the return of imprisoned Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who had been kidnapped by Hamas terrorists.

Among Sinwars offences was the killing of Palestinians who he called collaborators. He ordered the killing of a senior Hamas commander without trial because he perceived him to be a potential rival and traitor.

He comes to political power from the military wing of Hamas. The Izz a-Din al-Kassam terror group is linked to the extreme Islamic Salafist movement. He is close to Muhamad Deif, the chief of Hamas operations in Gaza considered to be the Chief of Staff of the Hamas terror army.

It is apparent that the radical terrorist arm of Hamas now controls their political wing. Sinwar opposes any compromise with Israel.

This arch-terrorist in Gaza is matched by similar hard line Fatah candidates in Ramallah.

An unfortunate feature of the global pressure on Israel has been the unwillingness to address the deep terror promoting agenda of leading members of the Palestinian Authority.

One of the leading candidates to replace Mahmoud Abbas as President of the Palestinian Authority is Jibril Rajoub. He is the chairman of the Palestinian Olympic Committee and the head of the Palestinian Football Association.

These are not benign activities for Rajoub. He exploits sport as a political football to try and expel Israel from FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, by bringing allegations against Israel to FIFA forums, as does the PA at the UN. But behind his diplomatic posturing lies the real face of Rajoub who promotes and glorifies terror through Palestinian sports competitions, inculcating the youth to revere terrorist murderers as heroes to be emulated.

One example is Muhannad Halabi who stabbed a father to death in Jerusalem in October 2015, stabbed the mother and a two year old child and killed an Israeli man who tried to help the family before he was shot and killed by an Israeli policeman.

One month after this attack Jibril Rajoub, in his capacity as chairman of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, named a table tennis tournament in honor of this terrorist murderer. Rajoub has little wriggle room to escape his culpability in this crime. The tournament was promoted under his patronage.

After Halabis murderous attack against an Israeli family Rajoub appeared on official Palestinian TV encouraging and glorifying his deadly act saying, I say whoever carries out acts of heroism we in the Fatah movement bless and encourage them. We consider them heroes and a crown on the head of every Palestinian beginning with our brother, Muhannad Halabi.

Rajoub regularly uses his official sporting titles to patronize sporting venues and events that honor deadly Palestinian terrorists.

The warning of collaboration with Hamas should Jibril Rajoub be elected as leader of the Palestinian Authority has been clear in his many statements. Following the capture of Gilad Shalit by Hamas, Rajoub said, If Hamas wants to kidnap Israeli soldiers let them. When they kidnapped Shalit we congratulated them.

Regarding using his overarching position in sport for normalization with Israel in advance of peace Rajoub said live on official PA television, Under no circumstances will there be normalization. We will bring the Executive Committee in helicopters so they will see no Jews, no Satan, no Zionist sons of bitches!

This is the leading candidate to head the Palestinian Authority and potentially a new State of Palestine.

Another popular candidate is Marwan Barghouti who is serving five life sentences for murdering Israelis. While in prison he has been calling for further terror attacks against the Jewish state. Yet, he is considered a folk hero to Palestinians.

The two headed pincer movement of a terror-loving Palestine will not become friendly nut crackers given statehood. They will continue their stated ambition to annihilate Israel in stages.

As for the current president, Mahmoud Abbas in late 2015 when referring to Palestinian terror attacks against Jews in Jerusalem said, in the most lethal Islamic terms, We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled in Jerusalem, blood spilled for Allah. Every martyr will reach Paradise, and every wounded will be rewarded by Allah.

He stated that he would not allow Jews to visit the Temple Mount by saying, They have no right to defile it with their filthy feet.

This is the real face of the man the world suggests is Israels moderate peace-partner.

Anyone who thinks that this type of Palestine will bring peace and harmony is delusional.

This is the new face of Hamas. This is the hidden face of the Palestinian Authority. This is the future face of ‘Palestine.’

Anyone hiding these deadly truths is being deliberately deceptive.

Barry Shaw is the Senior Associate for Public Diplomacy at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.

He is the author of Fighting Hams, BDS and Anti-Semitism and the new best-selling book 1917 From Palestine to the Land of Israel.

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The terror-filled face of "Palestine" – Arutz Sheva