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If Only Donald Trump Had Answered The Jewish Reporter’s Question Like This

Jake Turx: “What we are concerned about and 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. There’s been a report out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to —— ”

First off, thank you for your question, Mr. Turx.

Let me say that I hope your family and community have been free from violence in recent weeks. I enjoyed the support of many Orthodox Jews in my campaign, and as you know, all my grandchildren are Jewish and I love them very much. To paraphrase something President Obama once said, my own grandchildren look a lot like those who have been targeted by forces of hate.

I appreciate your drawing the distinction between my own attitudes and those of my followers. But it’s for that very reason that I want to take this moment to speak out in unequivocal terms that bigotry, anti-Semitism and hateful conspiracy theories have no place in this country. I condemn the recent surge in anti-Semitic incidents in the strongest terms, and applaud the FBI for its outstanding work in bringing these bigots to justice.

I am aware that some of these bigots have perpetrated these attacks using my name. So let me speak to them directly.

I say to you: You dishonor me by doing so, you do not have my support, and if my remarks today cost me your support, that is fine with me. If you think that our movement to make America great again has anything to do with white supremacy, anti-Semitism or racism of any kind, you have misunderstood everything I have said for the past year and a half.

Making America great again has nothing to do with falsely blaming any group – Jews, Muslims, Mexicans – for the challenges we face as a nation. Making America great again means restoring a sense of pride in our country. It means bringing back jobs lost to outsourcing, keeping our nation safe and removing obstacles to growth. It has absolutely nothing to do with hideous lies about Jews, or stereotypes about anyone.

Some people confuse patriotism with parochialism. But in fact, there are loyal, productive, wonderful Americans of every creed, every ethnicity, every background. When you attack someone because of what he believes in or who he is or whom he loves, you attack the ideals that our soldiers have fought and died to protect. You dishonor all American patriots with such acts.

How many Americans died fighting the Nazi regime in Europe? Yet some of you use the very symbol of that regime to deface synagogues and schools. How can you possibly call yourself an American when you idolize the symbol of one of our greatest enemies?

Let me clear up another misunderstanding. When I say I want to secure the border and stop illegal immigration, the point isn’t that the immigrants are Mexican, or Canadian, or any other nationality. It’s that they are breaking the law. Anyone who insults Latino Americans has totally missed the point.

And when I say I want to keep us safe from Islamic terrorism, the point isn’t that the terrorists are Muslim. It’s that they are trying to attack us. Anyone who insults Muslim Americans or Muslims in general has totally missed the point.

And of course all these are the same misunderstanding. Anti-Semitism, racism, prejudice – no matter whom hatred is directed against, it’s hatred and it’s wrong and I condemn it absolutely.

Finally, as you know, I’ve said many things that the establishment and the media don’t like. I’ve warned that our political system is broken, that our electoral system may be rigged, that many in the media don’t report fairly on the work we are doing.

But that doesn’t mean that you should believe insane conspiracy theories, whether they’re about Jews, or Democrats, or anyone else. I want us to be smarter, not dumber. And believing a ridiculous conspiracy theory because you read it on the internet is dumb. There is no shadowy group of Jews, or liberals, or elites, or anyone else secretly pulling the strings. That is stupid, and it is dangerous, and you shouldn’t believe it.

When I talk about the political establishment, I’m talking about entrenched interests in Washington and elsewhere who are corrupt, inefficient and ineffective. I’m not talking about some secret conspiracy.

But these stories aren’t just stupid – they’re also dangerous because they feed into age-old hatred that, again, is now aimed against my children and grandchildren. They lead to cowardly acts of vandalism, but also to actual attacks and violence.

So, thank you again, Mr. Turx, for giving me the chance to make all this clear. Anti-Semitism, bigotry and conspiracy theories are all lies. Making America great again means getting rid of them once and for all. If you’re painting swastikas, or harassing people online or spreading lies, you are not a patriot – you are a degenerate. If you love our country, you have to love all its people, and the values that our flag stands for. That’s the American way.

Jay Michaelson is a contributing editor at the Forward.

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