Fury as Trump appears to blame Jews for wave of hate attacks

ADL head says he is "astonished"


Donald Trump opened his first address to a joint session of Congress by condemning the wave of antisemitic incidents targeting American Jewish institutions and cemeteries.

However, in comments made just hours beforehand, he appeared to suggest that some of the incidents in question were engineered “to make others look bad.”

Seconds into his speech on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Trump spoke about “recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centres and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries.” These, he said, “remind us that while we may be a Nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.”

However, earlier the same day, while speaking to a group of US states’ Attorneys General, he responded to a question about these antisemitic threats by saying such occurrences were “sometimes the reverse… to make people or others look bad.”

Josh Shapiro, the Attorney General for Pennsylvania, shared Mr Trump’s comments with Buzzfeed. He said Mr Trump “used the word 'reverse' I would say two to three times in his comments.

"He did correctly say at the top that it was reprehensible."

Mr Shapiro continued by saying “I really don't know what he means, or why he said that… It didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.”

Mr Trump’s comments mirrored false accusations made by David Duke, a former Grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and a notorious antisemite, who tweeted at the President suggesting that “it might be the Jews themselves making these calls to get sympathy to push their ethnic agenda.”

In addition, a key supporter of Mr Trump – and his pick to run the White House Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs – also appeared to imply that Donald Trump’s enemies might have deliberately done these things to make him look bad.

“It's not yet clear who the JCC offenders are,” he tweeted.

“Don't forget The Democrats’ effort to incite violence at Trump rallies,”

Jonathan Greenblatt, Anti-Defamation League CEO, said;

"We are astonished by what the President reportedly said. It is incumbent upon the White House to immediately clarify these remarks. In light of the ongoing attacks on the Jewish community, it is also incumbent upon the President to lay out… his plans for what the federal government will do to address this rash of antisemitic incidents."

Meanwhile, Steven Goldstein, Executive Director of the Anne Frank Centre, gave Mr Trump credit for “doing the right thing by beginning his speech [to Congress, by] address[ing] antisemitism.”

However, he pointed out that “the President didn’t say exactly what he would do to fight antisemitism – how could he have stayed so vague?

“We’ve endured weeks of antisemitic attacks across America and we didn’t hear a single proposal from the President… to stop them.”

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