— CNN (@CNN) April 25, 2017
The Anti-Defamation League recently revealed attacks reportedly fueled by anti-semitism shot up by a whopping 86 percent in the first three months of 2017 in the United States. From January to March, at least 541 known anti-Semitic attacks and threats had occurred, whereas only 281 incidents were reported during the same period last year. Whether these numbers can be tied directly to the election of Donald Trump remains to be seen. Even so, he addressed the matter during his remarks at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Days of Remembrance on Tuesday.
“I am deeply moved to stand beside people who survived history’s darkest hour. Your cherished presence transforms this place into a sacred gathering,” Trump told the crowd while reading from prepared remarks. “The state of Israel is an eternal monument to the undying strength of the Jewish people. The fervent dream that burned in the hearts of the oppressed is now filled with the breath of life, and the Star of David waves atop a great nation arisen from the desert.”
Sticking to his teleprompter-based script as much as possible, Trump offered his audience a commitment of sorts. “It’s been on display in the most sinister manner when terrorists attack Jewish communities, or when aggressors threaten Israel with total and complete destruction. This is my pledge to you: we will confront anti-semitism.”
As forthright as some of Trump’s condemnation of the rise in anti-semitic attacks may seem, however, he and his administration have a long way to go in terms of improving their public profile. For while his comments Tuesday were meant to repair those burned bridges, the president tellingly didn’t offer an apology for past flubs. Like when Press Secretary Sean Spicer mistakenly referred to concentration camps as “Holocaust centers” and claimed Adolf Hitler didn’t “sink to using chemical weapons.” Despite a rare apology from Spicer at the time, he was roasted by the Internet and the media for his multiple gaffes.
Meanwhile, Trump himself hasn’t fared well with his recent responses to anti-semitism. As the number of bomb threats made against Jewish community centers increased, the president brushed them off as acts of political espionage made to discredit him and his supporters. And when this and other comments drew unsurprising amounts of criticism, Spicer rebuffed them.
You can watch Trump’s full Holocaust Museum address below.