Trump doesn’t understand how anti-Semitism works

(Jeffrey Herf, The Washington Post)

Neither do most Americans. It’s long past time we figure it out.

»On the evening after the deadliest act of violence against American Jews, President Trump said that Jews had ›endured terrible persecution‹ for centuries: ›You know that. We have all read it. We have studied it.

But his response to the horrific news that a gunman had killed 11 people and wounded six at Shabbat services at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh made it clear that Trump doesn’t actually understand the nature of anti-Semitism at all.

After the shooting, on the airport tarmac on his way to speak to the National FFA Organization, Trump didn’t utter a single word about anti-Semitism. Instead, he resorted to the talking points of the National Rifle Association regarding the need for armed guards in the synagogue, as if an armed guard with a pistol could have been a match for this lunatic armed, yet again, with an AR-15-style assault rifle. (It’s worth noting here that three armed police officers were injured.)

A few hours later, Trump did state the obvious: ›It looks definitely like it’s an anti-Semitic crime.‹ Then he said something that a modestly well-informed president would not say: ›That is something you wouldn’t believe could still be going on.

You ›wouldn’t believe‹ it only if you were clueless about the history and the contemporary reality of hatred for Jews.«

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