President Trump fails to properly address anti-Semitic threats
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The staff of the New Orleans Jewish Community Center on St. Charles Ave. evacuated roughly 300 people, many of them children, following a bomb threat on the morning of Feb. 23. New Orleans JCC Director Leslie Fischman said to The Times-Picayune that this was the first threat the facility had received in her 21 years of involvement and that she is disappointed by the event.
The threat in New Orleans is part of a larger wave of threats against JCCs and other Jewish institutions. Jewish organizations at 100 locations have received threats between Jan. 1 and Mar. 8 of this year, including schools, JCCs and offices of the Anti-Defamation League. There has been a total of 134 threats, with most coming in waves, delivered to multiple different locations by “robocalls” during a single day. For instance, on Feb. 27, 35 Jewish organizations received bomb threats. Three Jewish cemeteries have also been vandalized since the beginning of the year, adding to fears over a surge in anti-Semitism.
These threats are matched with a terrible and terrifying lack of active response from the administration of President Donald Trump. The inaction against anti-Semitism is harmful and must be fought against.
The words and actions of Trump have done little to ease concerns and have even, in some cases, made them worse. At a White House press conference on Feb. 17, Jake Turx, a reporter for an Orthodox Jewish publication, asked Trump why he was not addressing the recent uptick in anti-Semitic acts and what his administration planned to do to address them. Trump interrupted Turx, saying his question was “not a fair question.” He told Turx to sit down and denied being an anti-Semite or a racist. Later, when Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro asked Trump about the threats, Trump implied that the threats were made by Jews wishing to frame innocent people.
“Sometimes it’s the reverse, to make people – or to make others – look bad,” Trump said. These comments raise doubts about his commitment to combating anti-Semitic actions and other hate crimes.
Though Trump condemned anti-Semitic threats during a speech on Feb. 21 and again in his speech to a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28, these words lack significant power, coming weeks after the initial attacks. Many still doubt the administration’s commitment to protecting JCCs and other Jewish organizations. This coupled with a failure to mention the Jewish community in a White House press release on Holocaust Remembrance Day makes his words at the joint session ring emptier in the communities’ heavy hearts.
Jewish leaders have also expressed their concern over Trump’s reluctance to denounce the Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, whose hate group attacks Jews, among other groups. Many Jews and others who support the Jewish community are concerned with Trump’s White House strategist, Steve Bannon, who once ran Breitbart News, a news website with ties to the alt-right and white supremacist movements.
The apparent surge of anti-Semitic sentiment is troubling for the entire nation and to the Tulane community, which is home to more than 2,500 Jewish students. Tulane students must recognize the obvious and alarming threats that have arisen recently.
Trump must distance himself from and denounce those who espouse hateful and prejudiced rhetoric if minority groups, including Jews, are to feel secure and valued in this country. He must make clear that he does not tolerate any form of hate crime while holding those who make these threats accountable for their actions, to protect the security and well-being of all Americans.
This is an opinion article and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Madeline is a sophomore at Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached at [email protected]