During his testy press conference last week, President Trump reflexively bristled at questions regarding a reported spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes, seeming to interpret the queries as implied, personalized attacks on his character. His weird tic in response to these perceived slights was to talk about his electoral college victory margin, and offer some non-specific platitudes about "love." Following criticism from Jewish organizations and Hillary Clinton over his unfocused and weak response to a pernicious phenomenon, the president finally buckled down and made an unequivocal statement condemning bigotry on Tuesday morning at the National Museum of African American History and Culture:
"The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil...This tour was a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms."
In an interview with NBC News, Trump put an even finer point on his denunciation: "Anti-Semitism is horrible, and it's going stop, and it has to stop," he said. Nearly 70 Jewish community centers across 27 states have been targeted with phoned-in bomb threats since the first of the year. Needless to say, this is unacceptable in America, or anywhere else. The president's daughter tweeted a rebuke of the threats earlier in the week:
America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers. #JCC— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) February 20, 2017
After Trump's forceful comments, some critics maintained their chorus, calling Trump's (admittedly belated) expression of moral clarity "too little, too late:"
"The President’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism 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 Antisemitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record. 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. And it was only yesterday, President’s Day, that Jewish Community Centers across the nation received bomb threats, and the President said absolutely nothing. When President Trump responds to Antisemitism 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."
The White House's public relations response to the Holocaust statement left much to be desired, and Trump took too long to correct course on the spike in anti-Semitic threats. But to brand the Trump administration as guilty of "grotesque" acts of anti-Semitism is an ugly, hyperbolic slander. On that score, I'll leave you with Trump's UN Ambassador torching that body's sick obsession with Israel-bashing, a great deal of which is unquestionably motivated by rank anti-Semitism:
"I'm here to emphasize the United States is determined to stand up to the U.N.'s anti-Israel bias," Haley said before singling out Security Council resolutions focused on Israel as "outrageously biased." "The double standards are breathtaking," Haley said. She then described how the Security Council blocked a statement condemning a terrorist attack in Israel during which terrorists shot and stabbed innocent people. "That's downright shameful," she said of the council's inaction. "The Security Council would not hesitate to condemn an attack like that in any other country," Haley said, "but not for Israel."
Amb. Haley also condemned a lopsidedly anti-Israel Security Council resolution that the Obama administration deliberately chose not to veto in December -- a breathtaking (and allegedly premeditated) departure from longstanding and bipartisan US policy. She also demanded that the United Nations turn its energies and attention to addressing real threats such as Iran's serial misconduct. The previous White House cut a terrible nuclear deal with the Iranian regime, disregarding heavy bipartisan opposition among members of Congress and the American people.