President Donald Trump bristled at a reporter’s question on Thursday about how he will respond to an “uptick in anti-Semitism” across the country, calling it “very insulting” and insisting that he is “the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.”
The reporter, who was Jewish, prefaced his question about how Trump plans to combat the issue by saying he hadn’t seen “anybody in my community accuse either yourself or anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic.”
He added, however, that the Jewish-American community is “concerned about an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it. There’s been a report out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centres all across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to.”
Trump cut the reporter off and said it was “not a fair question.”
“Sit down, I understand the rest of your question,” Trump said. “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 relatively well, relative to other people running as a Republican. … But let me just tell you something, that I hate the charge. I find it repulsive.”
Trump then pointed out that he met Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told reporters he’d known Donald “for a long time” and to “forget about” reports that Trump was anti-Semitic.
“There is no greater supporter of Israel or the Jewish State than President Donald Trump. I think we can put that to rest,” Netanyahu said on Wednesday.
“So you should take that,” Trump told the reporter on Thursday, “instead of having to get up and ask a very insulting question like that. Just shows you about the press, but that’s the way the press is.”
Another reporter followed up on the question later, reminding Trump that he failed to answer the original question about what he planned to do to address the anti-Semitic threats.
Trump replied, without offering evidence, that “many” of the people making these threats were his political opponents, suggesting that anti-Semitic acts or threats around the country were political maneuvers aimed at undermining him.
The CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, has been warning of increasing anti-Semitism in the US and Western Europe since mid-2016. Greenblatt told the Israeli Knesset in December that “anti-Semitism has wound its way into into mainstream conversations in a manner that many Jews who lived through Nazi Germany find terrifying.”
Trump drew ire from the Jewish-American community after he released a statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day that decried the “horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror,” but failed to specifically mention either anti-Semitism or Jews.
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