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Bomb Threats To U.S. Jewish
Community Centers Continue;
Ignored By The Trump Admin.

2017-FEB/MAR

Part 9

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Food table, Jewish Community Center

A food table at a Jewish Community Center.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay.

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Bomb threats to U.S. Jewish community centers (JCC's) during 2017:

Threats to Jewish community centers in the U.S. started on 2017-JAN-04 after President Trump's election victory and before his inauguration.

On FEB-20 there were a flurry of anti-semitic incidents:

  • Early on that day, Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a statement that indicated his displeasure at the Trump Administration's lack of response on the rising tide of anti-semitism in the country. He said:

    "We look to our political leaders at all levels to speak out against such threats directed against Jewish institutions, to make it clear that such actions are unacceptable, and to pledge that they will work with law enforcement officials to ensure that those responsible will be apprehended and punished to the full extent of the law." 1

  • Also on that day, eleven additional Jewish community centers in the U.S. received bomb threats.

  • Near St. Louis, MO, a Jewish cemetery was desecrated. More than a hundred tombstones were overturned and damaged. Karen Aroesty, the Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League in Missouri and Southern Illinois, said:

    "It’s extraordinarily sad, I know people who are buried there.

    Enough already. This is where your loved ones come to be safe in perpetuity, and the level of tension in the Jewish community is pretty high." 2

  • The White House press office responded to an inquiry from NBC News, saying:

    "Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom. The President has made it abundantly clear that these actions are unacceptable." 1

  • Ivanka Trump, the eldest daughter of President Trump's and a convert to Judaism, called for "religious tolerance." She tweeted:

    "America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers." 3

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On FEB-21, Sarah Wildman, writing for Vox, said that during mid-February, President Trump had:

"... been minimally vocal about his positions on the matter. ... He had the chance to use his bully pulpit to reassure Jews who are fearful of rising anti-Semitism in America. He took two chances for targeted messaging to talk, instead, about himself.

At two press conferences last week, reporters raised sober questions about Jewish safety in America and the rise of anti-Semitism over the course of the election and beyond. Both were opportunities for a statement of firm condemnation against acts of violence and a moment of empathy: a presidential reassuring hand and an outstretched arm. Both times the questions were deflected, and rerouted, leaving the Jewish community reeling." 1

Wildman specifically referred to a press conference on FEB-15 involving President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Moav Vardi, an Israeli journalist, asked of the president:

"Since your election campaign, and even since your victory, we have seen a sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents across the United States and I wonder what you have say to the Jewish community of the United States and Israel, and maybe around the world, and ... to those who feel your administration is maybe playing with xenophobia and maybe racist tones?" 1

President Trump essentially ignored the question. Instead, he responded:

"Well, I just want to say that we are, you know, very honored by the victory that we had I just want to say that we are very honored by the victory we had — 316 Electoral College votes. We were not supposed to crack 220. You know that, right?

I will say that we are going to have peace in this country. 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. There's a lot of bad things that have been taking place over a long period of time. ...

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. I think that you're going to see a lot different United States of America over the next three, four, or eight years. I think a lot of good things are happening.

And you're going to see a lot of love. You're going to see a lot of love." 1

The Editorial Board of the New York Times commented on the exchange. The editorial was titled "Donald Trump’s Answer to Anti-Semitism? You Don’t Want to Know."

It said, in part:

"It was as if his brain had short-circuited or someone had hit some internal replay button in his brain. ..."

"There is no question that hate crimes and malicious speech have accelerated since the presidential campaign, with Jews among the prime targets. The Anti-Defamation League says anti-Semitic talk in the United States has reached levels unseen since the 1930s." 4

On MAR-07, the Jewish Federations of North America reported that during January and February there had been a total of 98 threat incidents against JCCs at 81 locations in 33 states. 5 Another group of telephoned bomb threats were experienced by JCCs in Florida, Illinois, New York, and Wisconsin. Several offices of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in Atlanta, Boston, New York City, and Washington DC also received threats. Evan Bernstein, regional director of the ADL, issued a statement condemning the threats and calling on the Trump administration to take concrete steps to stop the threats. 6 Every federal Senators signed a similar letter, also on MAR-07. It said:

"These cowardly acts aim to create an atmosphere of fear and disrupt the important programs and services offered by JCCs to everyone in the communities they serve, including in our states. We are concerned that the number of incidents is accelerating and failure to address and deter these threats will place innocent people at risk and threaten the financial viability of JCCs, many of which are institutions in their communities. 6

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On MAR-08, reporter Madison Park, writing for CNN said:

"In the third month of continued threats to Jewish community centers, schools and institutions, there are very few answers.

It's unclear who's making the threats, why and what the state of the investigation is.

Some of the bomb threats are emailed. Some of them are phone calls from muffled and distorted voices. Other calls are automated. They are chilling, with threats such as: 'The Jews will be decimated' and that bombs have been planted in children's backpacks'." 7

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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Sarah Wildman, "Amid rising anti-Semitism, Trump’s lackluster response has Jewish groups concerned," Vox, 2017-FEB-21, at: http://www.vox.com/
  2. Feliz Solomon, "Vandals Have Attacked a Jewish Cemetery in Missouri, Toppling Scores of Tombstones," Time, 2017-FEB-21, at: http://time.com/
  3. "Ivanka Trump calls for 'religious tolerance' after bomb threats aimed at Jewish centers," Fox News, 2017-FEB-21, at: http://www.foxnews.com/
  4. Editorial Board, "Donald Trump’s Answer to Anti-Semitism? You Don’t Want to Know," New York Times, 2017-FEB-16, at: https://www.nytimes.com/
  5. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), "Van Hollen Calls on DHS and DOJ to Address Threats to Jewish Institutions Across the Country," U.S. Senate, 2017-MAR-07, at: https://www.vanhollen.senate.gov/
  6. Andrew Siff & Ida Siegal, "Another Wave of Bomb Threats Targets Jewish Centers, ADL Offices," NBC New York, 2017-MAR-07, at: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/
  7. Madison Park, "What we know about the Jewish center bomb threats," CNN, 2017-MAR-08, at: http://www.cnn.com/

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How you may have arrived here:

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Copyright © 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted on: 2017-MAR-14
Author:
B.A. Robinson
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