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Trump Tuesday: Anti-Semitism ‘horrible,’ ‘painful,’ must ‘stop’

US President Donald Trump tours the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington on Tuesday. Afterward, he condemned racism and anti-Semitism. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON – Under pressure to denounce a wave of anti-Semitic incidents, President Donald Trump on Tuesday said anti-Semitism was “horrible and has to stop.”

He made his comments at the National Museum of African American History and Culture visiting the newest museum on the National Mall for the first time.

Trump discussed prejudice against blacks and Jews after his tour, saying the museum is a “meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms.

“The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community, and its community centers 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.”

Trump’s remarks came as Hillary Clinton challenged Trump in the morning to speak out following a wave of anti-Semitic incidents – including a threat to a JCC in Chicago.

Backstory: Trump’s comments came as he was under pressure on several fronts to say something about the increasing number of anti-Semitic incidents, with the Anti-Defamation League saying in a statement last week….

“On two separate occasions over the past two days, President Trump has refused to say what he is going to do about rising anti-Semitism or to even condemn it. It is mind-boggling why President Trump prefers to shout down a reporter or brush this off as a political distraction. This is not a partisan issue. It’s a potentially lethal problem — and it’s growing.

In light of the bomb scares, online harassment, physical vandalism, death threats and other hate crimes, there is a simple question at hand that Americans of all faiths deserve an answer to – what is the Trump Administration going to do about the recent surge of anti-Semitism? What concrete steps will the White House take to address intolerance?”

Last week, Trump took a question at his press conference about an “uptick in anti-Semitism” and bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers – and treated it as if he were personally accused of anti-Semitism. The reporter – from a Jewish news outlet – who asked the question prefaced it by saying he was not accusing Trump personally of anti-Semitism.

Trump instead said “I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism — the least racist person.”

In an unusual move, Trump on Tuesday morning refrained from posting anything on Twitter before heading from the White House to the newest Smithsonian museum.

Backstory: Trump visited the museum with top African-Americans in his month-old administration, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Omarosa Manigault, whose firing as a contestant on Trump’s “The Apprentice” put her on a path that led to her appointment as Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison.

Trump daughter Ivanka was also with them.

The African American museum opened last Sept. 24 at a ceremony that included former President Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president and former President George W. Bush who Bush signed the legislation establishing the museum in 2003.

Trump toured the museum with director Lonnie Bunch III, the Chicago Historical Society chief from 2001 to 2005. The museum includes an exhibit about Carson, pegged to his work as a prominent African American physician.

More Context…

Trump at his press conference last week triggered a controversy when he asked White House reporter April Ryan, who is African-American, if she would set-up a meeting with him and the Congressional Black Caucus.

This came after Ryan asked Trump about his “inner city agenda” and if he would meet with the CBC.

TRUMP STATEMENT COMES AFTER PRESSURED TO DENOUNCE ANTI-SEMITISM

Hillary Clinton and Ivanka Trump both posted in the wake of threats to the Jewish community in the U.S.

@hillaryclinton…“JCC threats, cemetery desecration & online attacks are so troubling & they need to be stopped. Everyone must speak out, starting w/ @POTUS.” 7:09 a.m. Eastern Time Tuesday

@ivankatrump… “America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers.” #JCC 5:59 p.m. Eastern Time Monday

More backstory: Until Trump’s statement at the African American museum on Tuesday morning, the question hanging out there was: Will Trump say anything about these incidents against the U.S. Jewish community?

Ivanka Trump converted to Judaism and with her husband, Jared Kushner are raising their children in an Orthodox Jewish home.

There has been a wave of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S., the most recent on Monday, when 11 Jewish Community Centers – including the Hyde Park JCC, 5200 S Hyde Park Blvd., in Chicago – received phone threats.

From a Monday statement from the JCC Association of North America on the increasing number of incidents:

“– Today, 11 Jewish community centers received phoned-in bomb threats. This comes in the aftermath of three waves of bomb threats in January (Jan. 9, Jan. 18, and Jan. 31), resulting in, through today, 69 incidents at 54 JCCs in 27 states and one Canadian province in total. All bomb threats in both January and today have proven to be hoaxes, and all JCCs impacted have returned to regular operations.”

Over the weekend, vandals overturned more than 100 headstones at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in suburban St. Louis.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported “officials will be cataloging the damage Tuesday and notifying relatives whose families are affected.