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US Jewish groups berate Trump for ‘besmirching’ reporter over anti-Semitism question

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image US President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference on February 16, 2017, at the White House in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm)

Anti-Defamation League says US president’s response to Jake Turx was ‘honestly mind-boggling’

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League decried President Donald Trump’s brusque treatment of a reporter who asked about a spike in anti-Semitic incidents.

“It is honestly mind-boggling why President Trump prefers to shout down a reporter or brush this off as a political distraction,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s national director, said in a statement posted on Twitter.

The American Jewish Committee’s CEO, David Harris, also posted a statement on Twitter.

“Instead of answering a timely and legitimate question, the president chose instead to besmirch the journalist,” Harris wrote.

Jake Turx of Ami Magazine had asked Trump at a news conference Thursday about a recent spike in anti-Semitic incidents, particularly a wave of bomb threats called in to Jewish community centers.

Trump interrupted Turx, called him a liar and treated the question as if Turx had asked Trump if he was an anti-Semite, although Turx had prefaced his question by emphatically saying he did not believe Trump was an anti-Semite.

Both statements noted that Trump within the space of 24 hours had evaded other questions about spikes in anti-Semitism, sometimes manifest in expressions by purported Trump supporters: one at the same news conference on Thursday, and one a day earlier at a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The ADL and the AJC implored Trump to address the spike.

“Respectfully, Mr. President, please use your bully pulpit not to bully reporters asking questions potentially affecting millions of fellow Americans, but rather, to help solve a problem that for many is real and menacing,” Harris said.

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., chided Trump on Twitter for saying Turx’s question was not “fair.”

“60 bomb threats against Jewish Centers in 27 states,” Deutch wrote. “Oh, it’s fair.”

The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect separately berated Trump for telling Turx that he was “the least anti-Semitic person you have ever seen.”

“Mr. President, that’s an alternative fact on a psychedelic acid trip,” said its director, Steven Goldstein. “Have you been adding magic mushrooms to your chopped liver on matzo?”

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