President Donald Trump on Tuesday decried anti-Semitism, calling it “horrible” and pledging to put an end to it.
“I will tell you that anti-Semitism is horrible and it’s gonna stop and it has to stop,” Trump told MSNBC’s Craig Melvin during a visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Asked directly if he was denouncing anti-Semitism “once and for all,” Trump responded in the affirmative.
“Oh, of course,” he said. “And I do it — wherever I get a chance, I do it.”
Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called on Trump earlier Tuesday to speak out against anti-Semitic violence, an issue he side-stepped at his press conference last week.
“JCC threats, cemetery desecration & online attacks are so troubling & they need to be stopped. Everyone must speak out, starting w/ @POTUS,” Clinton tweeted Tuesday morning.
Her post follows a call from the Anti-Defamation League for the Trump administration to take action in response to a wave of reported threats against Jewish community centers (which are often referred to by the abbreviation JCC) around the country. At least 10 such centers have received bomb threats in recent days, the fourth wave of threats against JCCs that the ADL has identified this year.
Trump was asked about the rising tide of anti-Semitism at his press conference last week by a reporter from Ami Magazine, a weekly, Orthodox Jewish publication. That reporter prefaced his question by noting that he did not believe Trump to be an anti-Semite and then launched into a query about bomb threats against JCCs.
The president, who had been in search of a “friendly reporter” when he called on Ami Magazine’s Jake Turx, interrupted him before he could finish, remarking that Turx’s was “not a fair question.” Trump told Turx to “sit down” and added that “I understand the rest of your question.”
Instead of addressing the substance of the reporter’s question, the rising tide of anti-Semitic threats on a national level, Trump defended himself against suggestions that he personally holds anti-Semitic views.
While Trump had yet to personally address the concerns raised by Turx and the ADL, the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, who converted to Orthodox Judaism ahead of her 2009 wedding, spoke out Monday night.
“America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers. #JCC,” she wrote on Twitter.