(JTA) — The Jewish reporter whom Donald Trump accused of lying at a press conference where the president was asked about anti-Semitism defended Trump’s actions as owing to a misunderstanding.
Jake Turx, a reporter for Ami Magazine, told Fox News he believed Trump acted defensively before hearing out Turx out at the press conference because of “unfair” treatment of Trump in the media and allegations connected to anti-Semitism.
“It’s very unfair what’s been done to him and I understand why he’s so defensive. And I’m with him when it comes to being outraged about him being charged with this anti-Semitism,” Turx, who wears a large kippah and a beard, told Fox News Thursday, hours after the incident.
“President Trump clearly misunderstood my question. This is highly regretful and I’m going to seek clarification,” Turx wrote on Twitter.
After a harsh-toned exchange with several reporters — some of whom Trump interrupted, told to “sit down” or be quiet — Trump said he wanted to take a question from a friendly reporter.
Turx said: “I’m friendly,” and asked what the government was doing to tackle anti-Semitic incident.
He began by saying that “despite what some my colleagues have been reporting, I have not seen anyone in my community accuse either yourself or anyone of your staff of being anti-Semitic,” adding: “We understand that you have Jewish grandchildren, you are their zayde,” Yiddish for grandfather.
Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka, converted to Judaism several years ago prior to marrying Jared Kushner, who is also Jewish.
However, citing dozens of bomb threats against Jewish institutions in recent months, Turx said: “What we haven’t really heard being addressed is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it.”
Trump interrupted Turx, said his question was “not fair” and said: “Okay, sit down, I understand the rest of your question.” Trump replied that he was “the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen I your entire life.” Trump then turned to the reporters, said “quiet” three times and said: “See, he lied about, he was going to get up and ask a very straight, simple question so, you know, welcome to the world of the media.”
He then said: “I hate the charge because I find it repulsive.” Trump referenced Benjamin Netanyahu’s remark Wednesday during a joint press conference at the White House, where the Israeli leader said: “There is no greater supporter of Israel or the Jewish State than President Donald Trump” to a reported who asked about the rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States. “I think we can put that to rest,” Netanyahu said.
During the Fox News interview, Turx said he believed Trump’s emotional reaction to the subject is a hopeful sig because “it shows a president who is so committed against this problem of anti-Semitism that it bothers him on a personal level, a deep personal level.”