Following the most recent round of bomb threats against Jewish community centers on Monday, the head of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect said that President Donald Trump is at least partly to blame due to the nationalistic thread that runs through his administration in addition to his failure to explicitly condemn the hateful acts.
In the fifth wave of such threats this year, more than 20 Jewish community centers and day schools received threatening phone calls in Alabama, North Carolina, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Virginia, and Delaware on Monday.
According to the Huffington Post tally, "there have now been more than 160 bomb threats made to over 60 Jewish community centers since January," in addition to the recent desecration of two Jewish cemeteries.
And despite the wave of antisemitic violence and threats, Trump has only offered vague condemnation while at the same time elevating individuals and rhetoric seen by many as divisive and inflammatory.
In a sharply worded statement on Monday, Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center, said: "Mr. President, it doesn't matter whether you think you are personally responsible for the continued acts of hate against Jews, including today's latest bomb threats. Rightly or wrongly, the most vicious antisemites in America are looking at you and your administration as a nationalistic movement granting them permission to attack Jews, Jewish institutions, and sacred Jewish sites."
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"Mr. President, you cannot just say this is not your fault," Goldstein continued. "Slow and inadequate responses can make it partly your fault. You must do more than belatedly condemn antisemitism. You must act to prevent it as if all our families were at stake," he added, referring to Trump's Jewish grandchildren.
When questioned earlier this month by Hasidic reporter Jake Turx about what the government is planning to do about the "uptick in anti-Semitism," Trump took it as a direct attack, declaring himself "the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life."
But coming from an administration that has declared "radical Islam" the enemy, championed global white nationalists, and taken steps to ban entry to people from majority-Muslim countries, Trump's words ring hollow.
On Sunday, following reports that more than 100 Jewish headstones were vandalized at Mount Carmel Cemetary in Philadelphia, the Anne Frank Center similarly urged the president to "deliver a prime-time nationally televised speech...on how you intend to combat not only antisemitism, but also Islamophobia and other rising forms of hate."
"Whether or not your intention," the group said, "your Presidency has given the oxygen of incitement to some of the most viciously hateful elements of our society."