Anti-Semitic and white supremacist rhetoric—and yes, attacks— have seen a resurgence within the U.S. since the election of Donald Trump. In October, 11 people died as the result of a hate-motivated shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, and while this attack was the most prominent of 2018, it sadly wasn’t the only one. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has been criticized for failing to recognize these forms of home-grown extremism for what they are, often refusing to even use the words anti-Semitism or Nazi when it’s been both accurate and appropriate. All of this makes his recent comments at a December 6th Hanukkah reception painfully ironic.
According to Politico, Trump told the crowd that it was Americans’ duty to stop anti-Semitism.
Trump then referenced the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
However, the president has often appeared to enable the anti-Semitic attitudes he claims to oppose. As Newsweek points out, Trump has a habit of calling his opponents “globalists,” a term that has been co-opted by white supremacists to refer to Jewish people. According to The New York Times, he’s also attacked the Jewish investor George Soros, parroting alt-right conspiracy theories that Soros funded anti-Kavanaugh protesters. The Atlantic notes that after the August 2017 Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white nationalists marched while chanting the Nazi slogan “blood and soil” (and caused the death of a peaceful counter-protester), Trump said that there were “some very fine people on both sides.”
And since Trump took office, white supremacists have been demonstrably emboldened. A 2017 report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) showed that the number of anti-Semitic attacks in the U.S. had risen 57% from 2016—the largest year-over-year increase ever recorded. In 2016, the ADL reported that there were 34% more incidents than in 2015.
Trump can condemn anti-Semitism all he wants, but if he truly supports Jewish people, he needs to stop enabling white supremacists.