March 3, 2017
News Press Release

Trump Administration’s Strong Statements/Actions Against Anti-Semitism a Welcome Change From Obama

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:

The ZOA praises President Trump and his administration’s actions and strong statements condemning and combatting anti-Semitism.  The Trump administration’s statements and actions are a welcome change from the Obama administration’s painful failures to properly confront vicious global and domestic anti-Semitism, including over 7,000 anti-Semitic incidents (over 1,000 per year) in the U.S. during the first seven years of the Obama administration. 

The ZOA also praises the Department of Homeland Security(DHS) Secretary John Kelly condemning  the “unacceptable and escalating threats and actual harassment directed at faith-based communities around the country, with a particular focus on threats to Jewish Community Centers.”   Kelly then directed DHS’s National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) to offer heightened support, including “training, protective measures, exercises, and information sharing,” to Jewish institutions. (See Statement By Secretary Kelly On DHS Support To Jewish Community Centers To Enhance Their Security, March 1, 2017.)

In addition, the Trump administration made six strong, unequivocal statements condemning anti-Semitism in a one-week period, including the following:  President Trump’s explicitly condemned anti-Semitic threats and vandalism at the outset of the President’s Joint Address to Congress on February 28, and during the President’s speech at the Museum of African American History on February 21, during which the President denounced the threats targeting Jewish community centers as “horrible and painful.”   Vice President Mike Pence reiterated President Trump’s explicit condemnation of anti-Semitic threats and vandalism “in the strongest terms” in a speech on February 22.   Press Secretary Sean Spicer reiterated and expanded on President Trump’s condemnation of anti-Semitic threats, including denouncing anti-Semitism as horrible and painful behavior that the Trump administration won’t tolerate, in press conferences on February 27 and February 21.  And Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sander again reiterated that the Trump administration clearly condemns anti-Semitic violence, at a press conference on February 28.  (See Trump Address to Joint Session of Congress, Feb. 28, 2017;  Press Gaggle by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sander, Feb. 28, 2017; Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Feb. 27, 2017; Remarks by the Vice President to Fabick Cat Employees, Feb. 22, 2017; Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Feb. 21, 2017; and Remarks by President Trump at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, February 21, 2017.)

The AMCHA report on anti-Semitic activity on college campuses with the largest Jewish populations states that there were over 300 anti-Semitic incidents on those campuses in 2015, and 287 anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses during the first six months of 2016

In addition, at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 2, 2017, President Trump denounced the “threats of extermination against the Jewish people.”  (Remarks by President Trump at National Prayer Breakfast, Feb. 2, 2017.)

All of this is a very welcome change from the Obama administration.  The Obama administration ignored thousands of incidents of anti-Semitism throughout its two terms in office – including the first two waves of the recent threats against Jewish community centers in early January 2017 (on January 9th and 18th)- which occurred while former President Obama was still in office; bomb threats in prior years of the Obama administration against Jewish centers; the smashing and desecration of 200 tombstones in a cemetery in Brooklyn in 2010; hundreds of incidents of anti-Jewish harassment and physical violence on college campuses; and the deliberate targeting of a Messianic Jew for his Jewish and Christian faith by the ISIS murderers who perpetrated the San Bernadino massacre. 

The Jerusalem Post’s Seth Frantzman’s recent analysis of FBI and ADL data show that there were more than 7,000 incidents during the first 7 years of the Obama administration (84 per month) – and that the “number of assaults increased, almost doubling during the Obama administration.”  Frantzman’s analysis also noted that the average of 95 per month in January and February 2017 is a relatively small 10% increase over the incidents throughout the Obama administration.  (See Is The ‘Rising Tide’ Of American Anti-Semitism Only A Surge In Incident Reporting?,” by Lori Lowenthal Marcus, JNS, Mar. 2, 2017; and “There Were More Than 7,000 Anti-Semitic Incidents Under Obama, And They Were Largely Ignored,” by Seth Frantzman, Mar. 1, 2017.) 

Jews remained the major target of religion-based hate crimes throughout the Obama administration.  For instance, according to the FBI’s hate crime statistics, Jews are by far the major target of religious hate crimes:  The FBI reported that there were 731 victims of anti-Jewish hate crimes in the U.S. in 2015; 648 victims of anti-Jewish hate crimes in the U.S. in 2014; and 737 victims of anti-Jewish hate crimes in the U.S. in 2013.  And the FBI reports may understate anti-Semitic activity during the Obama administration, especially on college campuses.  For instance, the AMCHA report on anti-Semitic activity on college campuses with the largest Jewish populations states that there were over 300 anti-Semitic incidents on those campuses in 2015, and 287 anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses during the first six months of 2016

Yet the Obama administration never issued the repeated condemnations of anti-Semitism or took the actions to combat anti-Semitism that the Trump administration has begun. 

President Obama also mischaracterized and minimized the radical-Islamist anti-Semitic murder of four Jews in a Parisian kosher grocery in January 2015 as a mere “random” event carried out by unspecified zealots against a “bunch of folks.”  (Obama called this radical Islamist targeted killing of Jews “a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who . . . randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”  See Obama’s Blind Spot About Anti-Semitism,” by Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary Mag., Feb. 9, 2015.) 

And when former President Obama finally made a speech condemning anti-Semitism in January 2016, Obama’s “action” items included organizing a UN conference (an exercise in futility), and urging Hungary not to erect a statue of an anti-Semitic leader (nice, but hardly the fundamental problem).  In the same speech, Obama in essence declared that criticizing Israeli policies is perfectly fine as long as such criticism did not completely deny Israel’s right to exist.   Obama ignored that the vicious double standards and constant unfair and unwarranted criticism that he and others leveled at the Jewish State was in fact anti-Semitic and encouraged anti-Semitic activity in the U.S. and throughout the world.