FACT CHECK: New York Times White House Correspondent Claims ‘Jews Don’t Believe in Heaven’

Chagall America heaven (HarshLight / Flickr / CC/ Cropped)
HarshLight / Flickr / CC/ Cropped
JOEL B. POLLAK

New York Times White House correspondent Annie Karni attempted to mock President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday evening by claiming that “Jews don’t believe in heaven.”

The context was Trump’s recounting of the story of Holocaust survivor Judah Samet, a Holocaust survivor (and Trump supporter) who also survived last year’s mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, and was present in the gallery in the House of Representatives.

Trump said:

Judah says he can still remember the exact moment, nearly 75 years ago, after 10 months in a concentration camp, when he and his family were put on a train, and told they were going to another camp. Suddenly the train screeched to a very strong halt. A soldier appeared. Judah’s family braced for the absolute worst. Then, his father cried out with joy: “It’s the Americans! It’s the Americans!”

[Standing ovation]

A second Holocaust survivor who is here tonight, Joshua Kaufman, was a prisoner at Dachau. He remembers watching through a hole in the wall of a cattle car as American soldiers rolled in with tanks. “To me,” Joshua recalls, “the American soldiers were proof that God exists, and they came down from the sky.” They came down from Heaven.

The last line was not in the president’s prepared text.

Karni seized on the remark, suggesting that Trump was ignorant, and perhaps insensitive to Jews:

She received enough pushback to add later:

But there are also many references to Heaven in the Hebrew Bible — and it is not even clear that Trump was referring to the afterlife.

Literally the first line of the Bible — Genesis chapter 1, verse 1 — says: “In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth.”

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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