U.S. Envoy for Middle East negotiations Jason Greenblatt on a visit in Israel.
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
“[US] President [Donald] Trump is not responsible for the hateful views or actions of every person that may claim to support him,” US Special Envoy Jason D. Greenblatt told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
In an interview ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Greenblatt maintained that the president has “come out clearly and repeatedly against antisemitism and hatred in all its forms.
“In discussing the persecution of the Jewish people shortly after the heinous attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, President Trump said, ‘We must stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters to defeat antisemitism and vanquish the forces of hate… Those seeking their destruction, we will seek their destruction,’” Greenblatt maintained, just one day after a report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) showed that the number of Jews physically assaulted in the United States has more than doubled in 2018, compared to the 2017 figures.
Noticeably, the report found that the number of antisemitic incidents in 2018 perpetrated by far-right and white supremacist groups, as well as individuals inspired by such ideologies, was the highest since 2004.
“Unfortunately, Jewish institutions and citizens have come under attack in the United States without regard to our political leadership,” Greenblatt continued. “So, we must remain vigilant in condemning it when we see it, and in continuing to teach our children the importance of tolerance and respect.”
Greenblatt recalled how – as a young man, when he traveled to Europe for the first time – he was “struck and saddened” by the level of security around synagogues.
“Now that that kind of blatant antisemitism and hatred has made its way to our shores in America – most recently with the heinous attack on the Poway synagogue in San Diego, and just before that at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh – it is deeply
disturbing,” Greenblatt said. “Jews around the world continue to be endangered by the scourge of antisemitism. Sadly, it is a very real and pervasive problem in our world.”
Greenblatt was one of the first senior officials to comment last week on a decision by The New York Times to publish a caricature that the paper has since acknowledged was antisemitic.
“The cartoon wasn’t just dangerous – it was despicable,” Greenblatt tweeted. “NYT owes us a transparent plan of action to ensure this will never happen again & should share results of their investigation.”
When it was discovered that the paper had published a second cartoon over the weekend that showed Netanyahu dressed as Moses and descending from Mount Sinai with a selfie stick and a tablet inscribed with a Star of David, Greenblatt again responded in kind. He tweeted that he was “confounded and shocked by another terrible decision by the NYT as our nation is grieving the deadly attack in Poway,” referring to the shooting attack at the California Chabad synagogue that claimed the life of Lori Gilbert-Kaye and left three others wounded.
Greenblatt serves as Trump’s special representative for international negotiations and is leading efforts to achieve a “deal of the century” between the Israelis and Palestinians with the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. Greenblatt said he is aware of the link between anti-Israel sentiment and antisemitism. He told the Post that “the denial of Israel’s right to exist is at the very origin of antisemitism.
“We must never accept narratives that claim Israel does not have a right to exist,” Greenblatt continued. “Anti-Zionism – denying the very legitimacy of the Israeli state and of the Jewish people – is clear antisemitism, and the Trump administration will continue to fight it relentlessly.”
He noted that Trump and his administration “have been tirelessly committed to combating antisemitism in all its forms,” including recently appointing Elan Carr as special envoy for monitoring and combating antisemitism.
In response to a question about the handful of freshman lawmakers in the US who seem to espouse antisemitic ideas in the halls of Congress, Greenblatt said that the key is education and “clearly and unequivocally calling out antisemitism wherever we see it or hear it.”
“We can have an educated and decent debate about the domestic and foreign policy decisions of another country without being antisemitic or denouncing that country’s right to exist,” he said.
“Under President Trump’s leadership, the alliance between the United States and Israel has never been stronger,” Greenblatt continued. “I am confident that there are, and always will be, US lawmakers who understand the importance of our relationship with Israel. I would also add that antisemitism should be bipartisan and that all sides can and should unite against it. This and America’s unwavering support for Israel must transcend party lines.”
How do we ensure that the next ADL report shows a reduction in antisemitic incidents rather than a continual rise?
Greenblatt said the answer is education.
Programs such as March of the Living, “are a tremendous opportunity for people to learn the terrible evil that man is capable of,” he said. “It is also an opportunity to remember the six million Jews who were systematically targeted and slaughtered because they were Jewish.”
He concluded that: “We must teach our children to love and respect one another and to fight all forms of hatred.”