TEL AVIV – U.S. Jewish groups hailed President Donald Trump’s opening remarks in his address to Congress slamming the recent spate of anti-Semitic acts of “hate and evil.”
“Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms,” the president said at the joint session to wide applause.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights group, called the speech “pivotal” in its condemnation of anti-Semitism.
“We are grateful that the president condemned antisemitism during this pivotal speech to the American people before both houses of Congress. American Jewry now looks forward to robust action to combat history’s oldest scourge at home and abroad,” Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, the dean and associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said in a joint statement Wednesday.
The rabbis further suggested that the administration commit to fully funding the U.S. State Department’s special envoy on anti-Semitism, in addition to elevating that role to the status of ambassador.
B’nai B’rith International also praised Trump’s words, and further urged that the administration take “forceful measures” to combat anti-Semitism.
“Anti-Semitism is a human rights issue, a distinct phenomenon that must be addressed as such,” the organization said.
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, who has in the past lambasted the president for not specifying Jews in his statement for Holocaust Memorial Day, tweeted, “Thanks @POTUS for condemning #hate ag Jews & immigrants. Now let’s fight it.”
Greenblatt’s predecessor at the ADL, Abraham Foxman, called for an end to the “politicization” of anti-Semitism, telling the Jewish Insider, “Trump said what needed to be said. It was clear and unequivocal. Now our community should move forward and work with local and national law enforcement to apprehend the culprits and design strategies to protect our community from anti-Semitic attacks and threats. And we should all stop politicizing U.S. antisemitism here and in Israel.”
The Zionist Organization of America joined in the praise and added, “It is critical to determine who is responsible for these seemingly coordinated attacks and threats.”
“ZOA very much supports the Justice Department’s involvement, and urges that its involvement in this urgent matter be expanded to the fullest extent possible.”
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, joined the fray, tweeting, “Powerful for @POTUS to note anti-Semitism at top of speech. Key now is to investigate and end terror campaign.”
Watch Trump’s speech below: