NEW YORK, Feb. 16, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC CEO David Harris issued the following statement, after President Donald J. Trump's press conference earlier today:
During President Trump's press conference today, he was asked by a reporter, Jake Turx of Ami Magazine, about the rise in anti-Semitism and what the Administration planned to do about it. In phrasing the question, Mr. Turx went out of his way to make clear that he was not in any way accusing the president of harboring or stoking anti-Semitic sentiments, but rather describing a more generalized phenomenon.
President Trump reacted unfairly to the journalist. Instead of answering a timely and legitimate question, the president chose instead to besmirch the reporter.
Later, in the same press conference, another journalist returned to the question of increasing anti-Semitism and also, inexplicably, did not get a substantive answer from the president. And yesterday, in a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when asked specifically about anti-Semitism, President Trump replied without ever once referring to the subject.
This is both worrisome and puzzling. We know President Trump to be a personal, long-time friend to many Jews, some of whom now serve in his Administration, and to take great pride in the fact that his daughter, Ivanka, has converted to Judaism and is raising her three children – the president's grandchildren – as observant Jews. Indeed, he speaks publicly about that often.
Our message to the president boils down to a simple and timely request: Mr. President, anti-Semitism around the world is on the rise. Sadly, it's true in our own country as well, as exemplified by a growing number of incidents affecting Jewish community centers, synagogues, and campuses, not to mention the realm of social media. The purveyors of anti-Semitism are many, including, it must be said, some who claim to be your supporters, but others as well with entirely different political agendas. We need the help of the government to combat this cancer, which violates every value for which our nation stands. That's why the questions are being asked at press conferences, and not in order to cast aspersions on your Administration. But if every such question elicits either no substantive response or, mistakenly, is taken personally, then what are people of good will supposed to conclude? Respectfully, Mr. President, please use your bully pulpit not to bully reporters asking questions potentially affecting millions of fellow Americans, but rather to help solve a problem that, for many, is real and menacing.
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SOURCE American Jewish Committee