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March 1, 2017 1:19 pm

US Jewish Groups Welcome Trump’s Condemnation of Antisemitism in Congress Address, Call for Strong Government Response to Fight Phenomenon

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

President Donald Trump addresses Congress, Feb. 28, 2017. Photo: Screenshot.

President Donald Trump addresses Congress, Feb. 28, 2017. Photo: Screenshot.

US Jewish groups welcomed President Donald Trump’s condemnation on Tuesday of the ongoing upsurge of antisemitic incidents across the country and called for a strong government response to quell the trend.

At the start of his address to a joint session of Congress, Trump declared, “Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms.”

Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper — the dean and associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center — stated on Wednesday, “We are grateful that the president condemned antisemitism during this pivotal speech to the American people before both houses of Congress. American Jewry now looks forward to robust action to combat history’s oldest scourge at home and abroad.”

B’nai B’rith International issued a similar statement, in which it urged the Trump administration to take “forceful measures” against antisemitism.

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“Antisemitism is a human rights issue, a distinct phenomenon that must be addressed as such,” the organization said.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted during Trump’s speech, “Thanks @POTUS for condemning #hate ag Jews & immigrants. Now let’s fight it.”

Greenblatt’s predecessor at the ADL, Abraham Foxman, told Jewish Insider, “Trump said what needed to be said. It was clear and unequivocal. Now our community should move forward and work with local and national law enforcement to apprehend the culprits and design strategies to protect our community from antisemitic attacks and threats. And we should all stop politicizing US antisemitism here and in Israel.”

The Zionist Organization of America also praised Trump for his words of support for the US Jewish community. “It is critical to determine who is responsible for these seemingly coordinated attacks and threats,” the group said in reference to the antisemitism wave. “ZOA very much supports the Justice Department’s involvement, and urges that its involvement in this urgent matter be expanded to the fullest extent possible.”

The Trump administration’s antisemitism policy, Rabbis Hier and Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center noted, “should include a commitment to ensure full funding for the US State Department’s special envoy on antisemitism, a position that should also be elevated to ambassador status.”

Watch Trump’s speech below (the antisemitism portion begins at the 30-second mark):

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