WASHINGTON – Asked on Wednesday to address a spike in antisemitic rhetoric and attacks across the US since his election win, President Donald Trump touted his victory in the Electoral College.
“I just want to say that we are very honored by the victory we had – 306 Electoral College votes,” he said, standing beside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the West Wing for the first time. “We were not supposed to crack 220 – you know that, right?” The Anti-Defamation League has recorded a dramatic increase in US antisemitism over the course of the last year, associated with the alt-right, an extreme nativist and white nationalist movement that supported Trump for president.
Trump then turned to the question at hand: “I will say that we are going to have peace in this country,” he said. “We are going to stop crime in this country. We are going to do everything within our power to stop long-simmering racism and every other thing that’s going on, because lot of bad things have been taking place over a long period of time.” The president did not speak specifically to attacks and rhetoric against Jews. “As far as people, Jewish people – so many friends, a daughter who happens to be here right now, a son-in-law and three beautiful grandchildren.”
Trump was referring to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, who were both in the audience for the press conference.
“You’re going to see a lot of love,” Trump said.
In response, Netanyahu said that he has known the president and his family for years, and that he has learned the Jewish people has no greater friend than Trump.
In a recent meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Netanyahu made a point of raising an increase in antisemitic attitudes in Britain. It was not immediately clear whether Netanyahu planned to raise the issue with Trump.
Neither leader responded to a question shouted from the crowd about a White House statement issued last month commemorating the Holocaust that failed to mention Jews.