World

Trump slams anti-Semitic incidents, finally

WASHINGTON: After remaining silent on the subject for days, President Donald Trump on Tuesday decried a spate of anti-Semitic threats against Jewish community centres across the US as "horrible" and "painful".

During his first visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, formally inaugurated just six months ago by his predecessor, Mr Barack Obama, Mr Trump called for an end to "hatred in all of its very ugly forms".

He said he would work to "bring this country together", referring to the spate of bomb hoaxes directed at Jewish centres in recent weeks which the FBI is investigating.

"The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centres are horrible, and are painful - and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil," Mr Trump said.

At the weekend, more than 100 headstones were damaged at a Jewish cemetery in St Louis, Missouri, the facility's director said.

Nearly a dozen Jewish community centres received bomb threats that prompted evacuations on Monday. All of the threats turned out to be hoaxes.

While Mr Trump's daughter Ivanka, who converted to Judaism in 2009, denounced the threats over the weekend, saying on Twitter that "we must protect our houses of worship & religious centers," he had not commented despite repeated direct questions about the issue.

When asked specifically about the threats at a press conference last week, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his side, he offered a curious answer, promising Americans they would be seeing "a lot of love".

He also mentioned his close family ties to Judaism saying: "So many friends, a daughter who happens to be here right now, a son-in-law, and three beautiful grandchildren."

The next day, when an Orthodox Jewish reporter asked Mr Trump at a White House news conference about a post-election surge in anti-Semitic incidents in America, Mr Trump reacted defensively, telling his questioner to "sit down."

Mr Trump also said he was "the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life". - AFP

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