Jake Turx, a Jewish reporter from Ami Magazine, got his first chance to ask President Trump a question at the press conference yesterday. The question concerned an increase in anti-Semitic rhetoric and how the Trump administration is planning to take care of it. Before Turx could finish his question, Trump cut him off, presuming the question would tie him with anti-Semitism.
Trump responded, “Here’s the story, folks. No.1, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. No. 2, racism, the least racist person.”
Trump continued by accusing his opponents of claiming that he is anti-Semitic: "Some of the signs you'll see are not put up by the people that love or live Donald Trump. They're put up by the other side, and you think it's like playing it straight? No. But you have some of those signs, and some of that anger is caused by the other side. They'll do signs and they'll do drawings that are inappropriate. It won't be my people. It will be the people on the other side to anger people like you."
His answer prompted a swift backlash from organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Interfaith Alliance. Outlets such as Meet the Press and the New York Times also commented.
Jonathan A. Greenblatt , CEO of the ADL, commented: “In the face of danger, Trump dismisses critics, attacks journalists," Greenblatt said. "These are not answers to a simple question: What is he going to do about the surge in anti-Semitism?"
Rabbi Jack Moline, President of the Interfaith Alliance, noted that “President Trump's repeated avoidance of addressing the recent and substantial uptick in anti-Semitism in America can no longer be ignored.”
Chuck Todd, on Meet the Press, called on Trump to "Make it clear that not only are you not anti-Semitic, but that you reject people who are, even if they voted for you.”
The New York Times Editorial Board also published an Op-Ed covering the story. They noted Trump’s use of his family members to support his claims that his administration is not responsible for rising anti-Semitism in the United States. They said, “Once again, he exploited the Jewish members of his family to bolster his credibility, noting ‘as far as people, Jewish people, so many friends; a daughter who happens to be here right now; a son-in-law; and three beautiful grandchildren.’ His bottom line: ‘You’re going to see a lot of love.’”
This question provided an opportunity for Trump to firmly denounce anti-Semitism and the fact that he didn’t is a cause of concern for all Americans.