WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump, asked Wednesday about a spike in anti-Semitic acts in the United States, promised that Americans would see “a lot of love” across the country in the future — but only after bragging about his election win.
At a joint press conference with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump was asked by an Israeli reporter about anti-Semitic attacks, which spiked in the days after his November election.
He was also asked if he agreed with those who said the new administration might be “playing with xenophobia and maybe racist tones.”
Trump offered a rather circuitous reply starting with a non sequitur — but one reporters have grown accustomed to — about the size of his Electoral College victory and the “tremendous enthusiasm” his campaign had generated.
He then vowed: “We are going to stop crime in this country. We are going to do everything in our power to stop long-simmering racism.”
The country is “very, very divided,” Trump said, adding, “Hopefully, I’ll be able to do something about that.”
At this point, Trump shifted gears to point out his close family ties to Judaism.
“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,” he said.
Daughter Ivanka Trump converted to Judaism in 2009 before marrying Jared Kushner, an Orthodox Jew who is now serving as one of Donald Trump’s closest advisers. Both were present.
The president continued: “I think that you’re going to see a lot different United States of America over the next three, four or eight years. I think a lot of good things are happening and you’re going to see a lot of love.”
In the 10 days after Trump’s surprise electoral victory, a US rights advocacy group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, tallied 867 racist incidents in the United States, of which 100 were classified as anti-Semitic.
After spiking in that initial period, the number of anti-Semitic incidents, and of other reported bias incidents, has slowed considerably.
The Trump administration faced criticism after a statement issued on the occasion of World Holocaust Day urged global tolerance but omitted specific mention of the Nazi genocide that killed six million Jews.
Netanyahu defended Trump over that statement, however, telling reporters on Wednesday that criticism of the president over the issue was misplaced.
Earlier, at their joint press conference, Netanyahu said, “There is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than President Donald Trump.”