President Trump spoke out Tuesday against anti-Semitic threats, but his words were not enough for the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, whose executive director called the president’s acknowledgment of anti-Semitism a “Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own Administration.”
“The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community at 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 said after a visit to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
He called his tour of the museum a “meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms.” Trump told NBC News earlier in the day that anti-Semitism is “horrible,” and is “going to stop.”
On Tuesday morning, Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, blasted Trump in a Facebook post.
“His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting Antisemitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record,” Goldstein said in the statement. “Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration.”
The statement continued:
“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. When President Trump responds to Antisemitism proactively and in real time, and without pleas and pressure, that’s when we’ll be able to say this President has turned a corner. This is not that moment.”
In a tweet, the center wrote: “.@POTUS @realDonaldTrump do not make us Jews settle for crumbs of condescension. What are you going to do about #Antsemitism in @WhiteHouse.”
— AnneFrankCenter(US) (@AnneFrankCenter) February 21, 2017
When asked about the statement on Tuesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that Trump had “made clear” that he is seeking to the unite the country.
“I think he’s been very forceful with his denunciation of people who seek to attack people because of their religion, because of their gender, because of the color of their skin,” Spicer said. “It is something that he’s going to continue to fight and make very, very clear has he has no place in this administration.”
Spicer then added: “It’s ironic that no matter how many times he talks about this, it’s never good enough.”
He called Trump’s comment on Tuesday “unbelievably forceful.”
“I saw that statement,” Spicer said, referencing what was put out by the Anne Frank Center. “I wish that they had praised the president for his leadership in this area, and I think that hopefully as time continues to go by, they recognize his commitment to civil rights, to voting rights, to equality for all Americans.”
Trump’s comments came after Jewish community centers nationwide received bomb threats, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The organization said in a news release that this was the fourth “series of such threats” this year. They also followed the news that more than 170 gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in Missouri had been toppled.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Tuesday that the vandalism occurred over the weekend and was under investigation.
The Trump administration was criticized in January for not mentioning Jews in a statement issued on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Trump remembered “the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust” but did not specifically mention Jewish people in the brief statement.
“I don’t regret the words,” White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said when he was asked to defend the statement during a “Meet the Press” appearance.
Priebus added: “Everyone’s suffering [in] the Holocaust, including obviously all of the Jewish people affected and miserable genocide that occurs — it’s something that we consider to be extraordinarily sad.”
Trump on Feb. 15 was asked what he was going to do to about the increase in anti-Semitic incidents. He responded by talking about his electoral college win. And at a news conference Thursday, he was asked about the increase in anti-Semitism.
“Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life,” Trump said. “Number two, racism, the least racist person.”
This post has been updated.