WASHINGTON — One in three Americans think that US President Donald Trump is personally anti-Semitic, according to new polling data commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League. “One-third of Americans think President Trump is personally anti-Semitic,” the ADL reported.
In a survey taken from January 2017 to February 2017, 33% of respondents said that Trump “holds anti-Semitic views,” while 50% disagreed.
It’s impossible to know how those figures compare to what the American populace thought of past presidents and whether they may have harbored feelings of anti-Semitism, because the civil rights group never polled that question before for a sitting president.
“We polled on this question for the first time because of the climate and rhetoric during the election campaign,” ADL Chief Jonathan Greenblatt told The Times of Israel on Thursday. “There was a great deal of concern about anti-Semitism and bigotry, and we wanted to get a better sense of public perceptions of intolerance in politics.”
The survey found higher numbers of Americans think Trump has prejudiced views toward other minorities: 59% think he has “anti-Muslim views,” 54% thinks he has “racist views” and 53% thinks he has “anti-Latino views.”
Thirty-five percent also think he’s “too close to the alt-right movement,” an amorphous designation that encompasses a broad swath of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and far-right ideologues — many of whom, including the anti-Semitic provocateur Richard Spencer, who coined the term, enthusiastically supported Trump’s presidential campaign.
One aspect of the president’s life that makes these findings more interesting is that he has close family members who are Jewish.
His daughter Ivanka married Jared Kushner, an Orthodox Jew. Before tying the knot, she underwent a rigorous Orthodox conversion process under the tutelage of Rabbi Haskel Lookstein at the Upper East Side’s Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun.
The two — who observe Shabbat and keep kosher — have raised their three children, the youngest of whom was born last March, Jewish.
Since the two moved to Washington, their oldest daughter, Arabella, began attending Jewish Primary Day School. Both now work in the administration; Kushner is a senior advisor to the president and Ivanka, as of last week, is an official assistant to the president.
Since January — when several waves threats of bomb threats hit Jewish centers, day schools and other institutions nationwide, and there were multiple incidents Jewish tombstones desecrated around the country — Jewish leaders have expressed frustration at the administration’s handling of the matter, including a seeming reluctance Trump had to immediately, and forcefully, condemn or even address these occurrences.
During a joint press conference in Washington in February, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to absolve Trump of such criticisms.
“I’ve known the president and I’ve known his family and his team for a long time,” Netanyahu said. “There is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than president Donald Trump. I think we should put that to rest.”
Come the end of February, Trump himself finally addressed the surge in anti-Semitism. He opened his maiden speech to a joint session of Congress denouncing anti-Semitic attacks, but the remarks came hours after he reportedly told a group of state attorneys general visiting the White House that he suspected the bomb threat called may have been planted out of political motives.
“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 its forms,” Trump told Congress.
The ADL poll data was gathered before officials revealed that the main suspect behind the bomb threats to Jewish institutions was a Jewish teenager of dual Israel-American nationality who may be suffering from mental issues. The suspect was arrested in the southern city of Ashkelon last month in connection with a majority of the hoax bomb threats in the US, Canada and elsewhere.
Among other findings in the survey, the ADL found that for the first time in at least half a century, a majority of Americans are worried about violence toward Jews and other ethnic and religious minorities.
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