NEW YORK – Jewish groups slammed U.S. President Donald Trump for telling a white supremacy group, the Proud Boys, to “stand down and stand by” during Tuesday’s presidential debate.
Trump made the comment in response to a question asking him if he is willing to “condemn white supremacist and militia groups.”
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Trump’s response to “a simple question” was “astonishing,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. “Trying to determine if this was an answer or an admission,” Greenblatt tweeted. “President Trump owes America an apology or an explanation. Now.”
The ADL noted that beyond the white supremacy group celebrating Trump’s mention online, tweets referencing the Proud Boys “jumped significantly to thousands per minute” on Tuesday night.
The American Jewish Committee also reacted to the remarks, telling Trump that “bigots, racists, and antisemites are rejoicing at your refusal to condemn white supremacy.”
“There can be no ambiguity on this issue,” the organization tweeted. “White supremacists should not just be told to ‘stand by’ – they need to be renounced completely.”
Meanwhile, Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, said in a statement that “over and over again during his presidency, Trump has been given the chance to condemn the white supremacists who support him,” addid that “Tonight, he once again showed why a majority of Jewish voters say that Jews will be less safe if Trump is re-elected. He doesn’t just enable white supremacy, it’s his platform.”
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Cotler also pointed out that some minutes after the comment, when asked about the election, Trump suggested that “his people” should go and “watch” polling places. “These are the words of a scared wannabe fascist, not a president – and Jewish Americans see right through him,” she said.
Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance, also issued a statement on Trump's comment, saying: "White supremacy and Christian nationalism are intimately intertwined. There is a tragic precedent of white nationalists targeting houses of worship, in particular Black churches, synagogues, and mosques, to carry out their violent manifestos and inspire widespread fear. There can be no freedom of religion when people worship in fear of violence. We must hear from both candidates about how they will combat white supremacy and how they will protect religious freedom for those of all faiths and none."