WASHINGTON — In a call on Friday with Jewish community leaders marking the High Holy Days, President Donald Trump professed an affinity for Israel and vowed to fight a scourge of antisemitism festering across the United States.
With his Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, on the line, Trump said the tradition of Judaism “strengthens our nation and inspires us all.”
He noted that survivors of the Holocaust were invited on the call, and underscored the importance of telling their history.
But several Jewish community leaders protested the annual phone-in over Trump’s response to a neo-Nazi rally last month in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which he was perceived to be equating their violent behavior with that of the minority groups in their crosshairs.
“We forcefully condemn those who seek to promote antisemitism,” Trump said, according to two sources who were on the phone call. “I will make sure we protect Jewish communities, and all communities, to make sure they are safe.”
The president also said America would “always” support the state of Israel— “not just because of security, but because of shared values.”
“On a personal level, and I just returned from Israel not too long ago, I can tell you that I love Israel,” Trump said. “This new year gives us hope for significant progress on peace. And I am very hopeful that it could happened by the end of the year.”
President Trump is slated to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, where the latter is also expected to give an official address at the opening of the assembly’s 72nd session.