President Trump’s unseemly record in refusing to directly address and condemn anti-Semitism leads some to conclude that he is a bigot, while others interpret this as evidence of his narcissism. His decision to call a reporter’s question about the rise in anti-Semitic incidents “very insulting,” as though it was a personal indictment of him rather than an opening to call out bigotry, only reinforced the impression that Trump is, at best, clueless.
With news of an epidemic of bomb threats on Monday at 11 Jewish community centers around the country, Trump’s omission became painfully, embarrassingly obvious. The Anti-Defamation League noted this was the fourth series of such threats since the start of the war and called on political leaders to “speak out against such threats directed against Jewish institutions, to make it clear that such actions are unacceptable, and to pledge that they will work with law enforcement officials to ensure that those responsible will be apprehended and punished to the full extent of the law.”
Trump remained mum. His deputy press secretary, asked specifically about the attacks, replied: “Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom. The President has made it abundantly clear that these actions are unacceptable.” The president did no such thing, and neither he nor the spokesperson’s comment suggested that any federal agency would take specific action.
Trump’s failure of moral leadership reflects a tone-deafness throughout the White House (which seems exquisitely sensitive to “alt-right” voices) and dereliction by his staff, which certainly should know better. (Goodness knows many bitterly criticized President Obama for perceived insensitivity to Jews and to Israel during his term.)
Contrast this appalling lack of awareness with the reaction last week by Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who attended a U.N. Security Council meeting. She came away with a proper appreciation of that body’s raging anti-Israel bias, which is nothing more than disguised anti-Semitism that holds the one Jewish state to a standard applicable to no other country. Her remarks are worth watching or reading in full, but this was especially effective:
“The Security Council is supposed to discuss how to maintain international peace and security. But at our meeting on the Middle East, the discussion was not about Hizballah’s illegal build-up of rockets in Lebanon. It was not about the money and weapons Iran provides to terrorists. It was not about how we defeat ISIS. It was not about how we hold Bashar al-Assad accountable for the slaughter of hundreds and thousands of civilians. No, instead, the meeting focused on criticizing Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East. I am new around here, but I understand that’s how the Council has operated, month after month, for decades.…
Israel exists in a region where others call for its complete destruction and
“Incredibly, the UN Department of Political Affairs has an entire division devoted to Palestinian affairs. Imagine that. There is no division devoted to illegal missile launches from North Korea. There is no division devoted to the world’s number one state-sponsor of terror, Iran. The prejudiced approach to Israeli-Palestinian issues does the peace process no favors. And it bears no relationship to the reality of the world around us.”
She further observed: “The double standards are breathtaking. Just a few days ago, the United States sought unsuccessfully to have the Security Council condemn a terrorist attack to Israel, where the terrorist opened fire on people waiting for a bus and then stabbed others.… The statement was blocked. And that’s downright shameful.”
She added: “Israel exists in a region where others call for its complete destruction and in a world where anti-Semitism is on the rise. These are threats that we should discuss at the United Nations as we continue working toward a comprehensive agreement that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” (Emphasis added.)
Maybe Haley should give a tutorial on the topic for the White House, where obtuseness about anti-Semitism is, in a word, “shameful.” The White House by now should know how incapable the president is when it comes to responding to such queries; it should prep him. If he has no genuine feelings on the subject, he should at least have the decency to fake some concern.
Contact Ms. Rubin at Jrubinblogger@gmail.com.