The Anne Frank Center used a statement on the arrest of a man suspected of making bomb threats to Jewish community centers to needle President Donald Trump for his perceived silence on anti-Semitism.
“We are grateful for the arrest of a suspect in a number of bomb threats to Jewish institutions,” Steven Goldstein, the executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect in New York, said in a statement. “This year, we have called on the Administration to respond to such threats consistently in real time, which didn’t happen.”
The as-yet-unnamed suspect is a 19-year-old US-Israeli citizen who was arrested in Israel. The man is reportedly suspected of carrying out bomb threats and other threats across the US – as well as in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand – over a six month period.
“It doesn’t matter where any suspect is from or what his or her background is,” Goldstein said. “Taking Antisemitism or any other kind of hate seriously requires a rapid response so that our nation, and indeed the world, sees the U.S. government as a leader against hate, rather than as a silent bystander.”
In a later message, the Anne Frank Center responded to claims that because the suspect is Jewish, it undermines the threat of anti-Semitism:
We have received a number of Antisemitic messages this morning in response to the arrest in Israel of a Jewish young man as the suspect in a number of bomb threats to Jewish institutions in the United States and elsewhere. The theme of the Antisemitic messages has been this: See, it’s your people, Jews, who were responsible. One message to our organization said a “white” person was not responsible. Such vitriol requires us to respond further: Hate is hate, and our nation had the right to expect this Administration to respond to hate with urgency every time. Our organization, like others, had to pull teeth to get a governmental response to the bomb threats and other desecration. Almost every time, we never got responses. The religion of a suspect doesn’t matter. The hateful acts were the same, and the lack of governmental responses along the way were the same. Moreover, we will not tolerate using today’s arrests as a pretext for more Antisemitism or other hate. To point to the religion of one depraved individual, and use that as a pretext for hate against an entire religion, is immoral and unacceptable, and those who engage in such arguments should be ashamed of their own prejudice.
The Anne Frank Center has been outspoken during Trump’s presidency as attacks and threats against the US Jewish community have increased.
“The president’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own administration,” Goldstein said in February, after Trump called anti-Semitism “horrible” and said it “has to stop.”
“His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting Antisemitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the public record,” Goldstein said. “Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration.”
More recently, the Anne Frank Center called on actor Tim Allen to apologize for comparing the experience of being a conservative in Hollywood to living in Germany in the 1930s.