President Donald Trump condemned anti-Semitic attacks while addressing a joint session of Congress.
However, the same day, during a meeting with state attorney generals, he reportedly made a vile statement about the pressing issue, essentially a reiteration of a conspiracy theory that has long been trumpeted by white supremacists.
Trump suggested some of the anti-Semitic attacks could just be false flags.
"He [Trump] just said, 'Sometimes it's the reverse, to make people — or to make others — look bad,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro told BuzzFeed.
Shapiro also said the president used the word reverse “two or three times.” Though, he did “correctly say at the top that it was reprehensible."
"I really don't know what he means, or why he said that,” he added.
Shapiro couldn’t explain what the president meant but many were quick to note that Trump’s comments echoed a notoriously familiar belief held among white supremacists, according to which Jews orchestrate attacks against themselves.
For instance, The Daily Stormer white supremacist website, which has been billed the “top hate site in America,” according to a detailed post by the Southern Poverty Law Center, also published a post on the recent wave of anti-Semitism in the country. It concludes with the statement that “Jews don’t want to catch the culprit” behind the anti-Semitic attacks “because Jews themselves know it’s a Jew behind it.”
Then David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader, floated the same theory on his Twitter account:
About Trump's theory that the JCC threats are a false flag operation: 20 hours ago, the same theory appeared on a white supremacist site. pic.twitter.com/P4qi9L7w1G— Tom Bonier (@tbonier) February 28, 2017
Since the beginning of the year, more than 90 bomb threats to Jewish community centers and day schools have been reported and just last week the headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia were knocked over and damaged.
Trump had multiple occasions to denounce the suspected anti-Semitic attacks earlier last month. However, unlike the swiftness of his replies to Saturday Night Live sketches about him or Meryl Streep criticizing him at the Golden Globes, Trump waited quite a bit to condemn the threats against the American Jewish community. Understandably, the delay prompted a lot of outrage.
And after all of this, the president’s “reverse” comments have many, including the Anti-Defamation League, wondering if he is actually accusing the Jewish people of perpetrating the attacks against themselves:
ADL: "We are astonished by what the President reportedly said. It is incumbent upon the White House to immediately clarify these remarks." pic.twitter.com/NzLBSxI1Tj— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) February 28, 2017
Trump reportedly suggests wave of anti-Semitic incidents could be false flags perpetrated by Jews https://t.co/6e3AaNRiyZ— Allison K. Sommer (@AllisonKSommer) February 28, 2017
Trump's response 2 antisemitic threats is "sometimes it's the reverse." The man is a fucking disgrace as are GOP members who give him cover.— (((Joshua Malina))) (@JoshMalina) February 28, 2017
The President just insinuated that Jews might be desecrating our own cemeteries to get attention. https://t.co/LTFV4kS09S— Rabbi Mark Goodman (@RabbiMarkAsherG) February 28, 2017
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Tom Gannam