On Tuesday, President Trump toured the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and spoke out against anti-Semitic threats — a move which the executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect said wasn't quite enough. In fact, Steven Goldstein said Trump's response to attacks on the Jewish community was a "pathetic asterisk of condescension," according to The Washington Post.
Trump's comments on Tuesday were the first direct response he issued to the growing number of anti-Semitic attacks taking place across the country. "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 on Tuesday.
According to Vox, the Jewish community has faced more than 67 bomb scares since January, and on Monday alone, 11 Jewish community centers across the United States were hit with bomb threats. In the past week, more than 100 tombstones were desecrated at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis. Throughout it all, the White House and members of Trump's family responded to the incidents without specifically mentioning anti-Semitism. The long silence — and the lack of specificity that followed it — motivated many in the media to request statements from the president. Many leaders in the Jewish community spoke up about the perceived lack of support they felt from the Trump Administration.
On Tuesday, Goldstein felt like Trump's statement was just too little, too late. "The President’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own Administration," Goldstein wrote in a post shared on the Anne Frank Center's Facebook page. "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. Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration."
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, President’s 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.
At a news conference shortly after, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer responded to the criticism. "It's ironic that no matter how many times he [Trump] talks about this, it's never good enough," he said, according to The Independent. He continued:
I wish that they [the Anne Frank Centre] had praised the President for his leadership in this area. And I think hopefully as time continues to go by, they will recognise his commitment to civil rights, to voting rights, to equality for all Americans.
Judging by the Anne Frank Center's statement, however, it seems clear that —if Trump's response to anti-Seimitism doesn't change — that desired acknowledgement won't be coming anytime soon.