On the day when President Trump most forcefully condemned anti-Semitism, his press secretary Sean Spicer is clashing with the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, based in New York, over whether Trump’s comments were powerful enough.
Trump on Tuesday decried “the anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers,” including yesterday’s wave of 11 bomb threats to JCCs and desecration of a Missouri Jewish cemetery, as “horrible,” “painful, and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done.”
In response, the Anne Frank Center’s CEO Steven Goldstein said Trump’s comments were insufficient. “The President’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism [sic] that has infected his own Administration,” Goldstein wrote.
Spicer’s take? “I wish that they [the Anne Frank Center] had praised the President for his leadership in this area,” he said, according to The Independent.
“I think hopefully as time continues to go by, they will recognize his commitment to civil rights, to voting rights, to equality for all Americans,” Spicer continued.
Jewish leaders have called out Trump for his seeming reluctance to name and denounce anti-Semitism.
The president failed to mention Jewish victims in his International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement, a decision his administration defended as “inclusive;” he last week responded to one question on anti-Semitic events in the United States by bragging about his Electoral College victory, and another by demanding an Orthodox reporter “sit down”.
His administration also made no statement following the arrest of Benjamin McDowell, a South Carolina man who reportedly hoped to carry out an attack on a synagogue “in the spirit of Dylann Roof,” the white supremacist who murdered nine black worshippers at a Charleston church.
Spicer is not the first to tussle with institutions devoted to the commemorating the Shoah. In December, the Atlantic’s Matt Ford observed a Twitter conflict between the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum and conservative commentator Kurt Schlichter.
“Had a rough day today,” Ford wrote, “but at least I didn’t get in an argument with a Holocaust museum.”
Had a rough day today, but at least I didn’t get in an argument with a Holocaust museum. pic.twitter.com/seP7eAAj2a— Matt Ford (@fordm) December 29, 2016