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White House condemns anti-Semitism in ‘strongest terms’

Following latest wave of threats against 10 JCCs and 4 ADL offices, Sean Spicer says administration will continue to denounce ‘evil threats’

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer looks on during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, March 7, 2017. (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer looks on during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, March 7, 2017. (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday said that the Trump administration condemns anti-Semitism “in the strongest terms” as Jewish institutions across north America were hit with a fresh wave of bomb threats.

“We denounce these latest anti-Semitic and evil threats in the strongest terms,” Spicer said, speaking at the daily White House press briefing.

“I share the president’s hopes that we don’t have to continue to share these disturbing reports with you,” he added.

He spoke shortly after at least ten Jewish community centers across North America and four offices of the Anti-Defamation League received attack threats, in the sixth such wave since the beginning of the year.

Spicer said that as long as the threats continue, the administration will keep condemning them and look at ways to stop them.

Illustrative: The Albany JCC closed briefly due to a bomb scare, January 18, 2017. (Screenshot from Twitter via JTA)
Illustrative: The Albany JCC closed briefly due to a bomb scare, January 18, 2017. (Screenshot from Twitter via JTA)

At least 14 Jewish sites were targeted Tuesday, resulting in multiple evacuations and parents pulling their children out of JCC school programs. Since this trend began in January, more than 100 Jewish institutions have experienced bomb threats and multiple Jewish cemeteries have been vandalized.

Also on Tuesday, the entire US Senate signed an open letter to the Trump administration urging them to take action against the continued surge in anti-Semitic attacks throughout the US.

“These cowardly acts aim to create an atmosphere of fear and disrupt the important programs and services offered by JCCs to everyone in the communities they serve, including in our states,” the senators said in the appeal.

Following a growing uproar over his failure to denounce the recent wave of anti-Semitic incidents, US President Donald Trump issued his first explicit condemnation of the phenomenon last month, calling anti-Semitism “horrible,” “painful and a “sad reminder” of evil.

US President Donald J. Trump delivers his first address to a joint session of Congress from the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington, DC, USA, 28 February 2017. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / JIM LO SCALZO)
US President Donald J. Trump delivers his first address to a joint session of Congress from the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington, DC, USA, 28 February 2017. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / JIM LO SCALZO)

Trump again denounced anti-Semitic attacks in his maiden speech to Congress one week ago, opening that address by saying the phenomenon was a reminder “of our nation’s path toward civil rights and the work that remains.”

“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,” he said.

Despite Trump’s condemnations of anti-Semitism, US Jewish groups remain concerned that not enough is being done to tackle the problem, with the ADL, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Community Center Association of North America, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Orthodox Union, the Jewish Federations of North America and the Union for Reform Judaism all coming out in support of Tuesday’s letter signed by every US senator calling for a more aggressive stance against anti-Semitism.

Agencies contributed to this report.

 

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