Ivanka Trump calls for tolerance after threats on Jewish centers
First daughter tweets support for 'houses of worship'
By MAGGIE HABERMAN and NIRAJ CHOKSHI
The New York Times
Ivanka Trump, President Trump’s oldest daughter and a convert to Judaism, issued a statement over Twitter on Monday calling for “religious tolerance” after a new wave of threats against Jewish community centers.
The tweet was Ms. Trump’s most vocal foray into a public discussion and was made over an issue her allies say she feels personally.
The message was posted after Ms. Trump wrote, and then deleted, an earlier one moments beforehand.
Ms. Trump converted to Judaism before marrying her husband, Jared Kushner, an Orthodox Jew, putting her in a position to be a prominent voice at a moment when a number of anti-Semitic episodes have taken place around the country. Her previous substantive effort in the White House involved convening a women’s business council, an event she helped create, when the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, visited the president.
On Monday, 11 separate bomb scares were called into Jewish community centers around the country. They were the latest in a string of such threats since the start of the year.
“Since the beginning of this year, we’ve seen four waves of these threats — we’ve never seen that before,” said David Posner, the director of strategic performance at the JCC Association of North America. Just one community center reported such a threat in all of 2016, he said.
The centers threatened on Monday were in Albuquerque; Birmingham, Ala.; Buffalo; Chicago; Cleveland; Houston; Milwaukee; Nashville; St. Paul; Tampa, Fla.; and Tulsa, Okla. Like the earlier threats, they were deemed hoaxes, but not before several of the centers were evacuated as a precaution.
Mr. Trump has been criticized as slow to condemn anti-Semitic comments, and his candidacy was hailed by white nationalists and white supremacists throughout 2016.
On Thursday, at his first lengthy news conference alone as president, Mr. Trump was asked by a reporter for a Jewish magazine how the government plans to respond to the increase in such anti-Semitic incidents. The president responded angrily, saying the question was “insulting” and that he was the “least anti-Semitic person in the world.”
In addition to Ms. Trump’s statement, the Trump administration addressed the issue more directly on Monday.
“Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom,” Lindsay Walters, the White House deputy press secretary, said in a statement. “The president has made it abundantly clear that these actions are unacceptable.”
Also on Monday, the police in University City, Mo., near St. Louis, were investigating vandalism at a Jewish cemetery where dozens of headstones were damaged, according to reports.
Many cemeteries have sustained vandalism, and the police have not said whether they believed the episode in University City was motivated by anti-Semitism. Even so, Gov. Eric Greitens said on Twitter that he was “disgusted to hear about the senseless act of desecration,” issuing the kind of condemnation that Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, had urged of all politicians.
“We look to our political leaders at all levels to speak out against such threats directed against Jewish institutions, to make it clear that such actions are unacceptable,” he said in a statement about the bomb threats.