Donald Trump appears to have a fraught relationship with Jewish communities in the United States. Trump’s closest adviser, Steve Bannon, is perhaps the highest profile leader of the alt right movement. The alt right is accused by many of being anti-Semitic and white nationalist; these accusations gained credibility when video emerged of alt right leaders using Nazi salutes at a meeting celebrating Trump’s election victory. It is therefore not surprising that many are concerned about possible anti-Semitism in the White House.
These concerns were elevated last week when Donald Trump refused to mention the murder of millions of Jews during his remarks on Holocaust Remembrance Day. When he thereafter refused to directly condemn anti-Semitism when asked to do so by reporters, concern ratcheted up even further.
Finally, after reports emerged that Jewish communities have been targeted with increasing frequency in recent weeks, Trump issued a statement. “The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful,” Trump said, according to Politico.
This statement is certainly welcome, but came too little, too late for some Democrats and Jewish groups. Said congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY), according to Politico: “It’s not hard to see a connection between the rhetoric used by the white nationalists given a platform by President Donald Trump’s campaign and the increase in threats against the Jewish people. President Trump’s statement is long overdue and doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of what needs to be done.”
Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, also weighed in: “The President’s sudden acknowledgment of Anti-Semitism is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Anti-Semitism that has infected his own Administration.”
These are strong words, but given Trump’s embrace of the alt right within his administration, the sentiments are understandable.