The Trump Administration Needs To Do More To Combat Anti-Semitism

We’re less than two months into 2017, and so far, vandalism on Jewish landmarks has increased while 54 Jewish Community Centers in 27 states have reported receiving bomb threats. 

Although no explosives were found, the rise in anti-Semitism is disheartening. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which battles anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry, summed up the importance of taking the threats seriously in a statement.

“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 be taken seriously,” the statement read.

President Donald J. Trump’s administration, for the most part, remained mum on the increasing threats. Trump’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement on Jan. 27 failed to mention Jews, which rightfully angered many people. After all, the Holocaust is a significant part of Jewish history and struggle, and it’s insensitive to attempt to diminish it and defend that reasoning.

But activists continued urging Trump to speak out against anti-Semitism and hoped that he would. After initially deflecting a question from a Jewish reporter about anti-Semitism’s rise in the U.S. by gloating about his Electoral College victory, Trump finally publicly condemned anti-Semitic incidents yesterday.

“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 told the media after touring the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

But for some activists within the Jewish community, Trump’s late condemnation wasn’t enough. If anything, it seemed empty because when Trump had multiple chances to condemn anti-Semitism, such as simply answering a reporter’s question, he refused to do so. 

The Trump administration must stop empowering anti-Semites within the administration and support base.  

In a strongly-worded statement released yesterday, the Anne Frank Center called Trump’s response "a Band-Aid on the cancer of Anti-Semitism that has infected his own 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, Presidents’ Day, that Jewish Community Centers across the nation received bomb threats, and the President said absolutely nothing,” the statement read.

The Anne Frank Center’s statement is spot on. Not only have Trump and his administration been tone deaf about the threats the American Jewish community face under their reign, they continue to ignore their glaring role in contributing to the culture of hate and religious intolerance that fuel anti-Semitic incidents.

Although it’s a step in the right direction that Trump condemned the wave of anti-Semitic incidents given the number of “alt-right” followers in fan base, he needs to do more than that to make America safe again for religious minorities.

Trump cannot just ride on the notion that he’s not anti-Semitic because he loves his daughter, Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, who are Jewish. It doesn’t exempt him from his actions that speak otherwise.

While I can’t measure Trump’s sincerity in his comments, it says very little about how much he cares about anti-Semitism when one of his first moves as president-elect was to appoint the controversial Steve Bannon as his chief strategist when he knew full well that Bannon has been accused of harboring racists and anti-Semites at his site, Breitbart News.

As long as the administration continues to promote distrust of other religious minorities, empower anti-Semites in the White House and rid themselves of any responsibility to how their campaigning tactics have made it harder for Jews and other religious minorities to worship freely without fear of his people threatening their community, there will be minimal progress.