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Trump's silence on a documented rise in episodes of anti-Semitism is 'mind-boggling,' group says

Ami Magazine reporter Jake Turx, shown, was told to "sit down" after he tried to ask President Trump about a documented rise in anti-Semitic episodes in the United States. (Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)
Ami Magazine reporter Jake Turx, shown, was told to "sit down" after he tried to ask President Trump about a documented rise in anti-Semitic episodes in the United States. (Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

For a second straight day, President Trump refused to directly address questions Thursday about a documented rise in anti-Semitic episodes in the United States, prompting renewed concern from prominent Jewish groups.

A day earlier, he sidestepped a query from an Israeli reporter on the issue by touting his margin of victory in the electoral college and his Jewish grandchildren. On Thursday, the president labeled a reporter's attempt to revisit the issue as "insulting."

"Here's the story, folks. Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life," he said at a news conference. "Number two, racism, the least racist person."

Trump then ordered the reporter, Jake Turx of Ami Magazine, to "sit down."

When a second reporter tried to press Trump on the issue, the president claimed, without evidence, that any anti-Semitic behavior was the work of his political opponents.

"It won't be my people. It will be the people on the other side to anger people like you," he said.

The Anti-Defamation League has monitored a surge in racist and anti-Semitic graffiti and vandalism since Trump's election, including the use of Nazi imagery. Forty-eight Jewish Community Centers reported bomb threats in January, according to CNN .

"It is mind-boggling why President Trump prefers to shout down a reporter or brush this off as a political distraction," ADL National Chairman Marvin Nathan and CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. "This is not a partisan issue. It’s a potentially lethal problem — and it’s growing."

"Trump may claim to love the Jewish people, but his actions demonstrate callous indifference to anti-Semitism at best and outright advancement at worst," said Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc Jewish Action, a liberal group.

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