President Donald Trump addressed the recent spate of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. lately – including two bomb threats made toward Minnesota Jewish Community Centers.
Trump Tuesday was at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. After a tour of the museum, he commented on the threats against the Jewish community, saying they're "horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil," according to CNN.
NBC News tweeted video of Trump also saying: "Anti-Semitism is horrible, and it's going to stop, and it has to stop."
These were the president's first comments directly about the recent spate of anti-Semitism, The Associated Press said.
Two Jewish Community Centers in Minnesota have been among those targeted in recent weeks.
Sabes JCC and Barry Family Campus had to be evacuated on Jan 18 after someone made a bomb threat. Twenty-five JCCs across the country were threatened that day. Similar threats to JCCs were made in at least nine states earlier that month too, USA Today reported.
Then Monday this week, the Jewish Community Center in St. Paul was evacuated because of a phoned-in bomb threat – with 10 other JCCs in the U.S. also being targeted.
And over the weekend, vandals damaged as many as 200 headstones at a Jewish cemetery near St. Louis, with many of them knocked over, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Police have said there isn't any indication at this point that it was a hate crime, but they're not ruling it out.
Trump's silence on the anti-Semitic threats had raised questions and concerns among Jewish leaders and other high-profile figures, the Washington Post reported.
The president's comments Tuesday morning also came a week after Trump cut off a Jewish reporter from Ami Magazine as he was trying to ask a question about the government's plan to address the recent uptick in anti-Semitism, as CNN reported.
The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect was not satisfied with Trump's denouncement. In a response on Facebook, Executive Director Steven Goldstein called it a "Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism," and said when the president responds "proactively and in real time, and without pleas and pressure," they'll be able to say he's turned a corner.
Uptick in anti-Semitic incidents
The FBI also tracks hate crime statistics. The agency released its 2015 stats last fall, saying hate crimes rose from 5,479 in 2014 to 5,850 in 2015. It’s worth noting, though, that hate crimes reported in 2013 were slightly higher than 2015, with 5,928 reported crimes.