Jewish groups reacted immediately against U.S. President Donald Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacism during the first 2020 presidential debate on Tuesday in Cleveland.

“Are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups, and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence at a number of these cities, as we saw in Kenosha and as we’ve seen in Portland?” moderator and Fox News anchor Chris Wallace asked Trump during the debate held at the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion on the campus of Case Western Reserve University.

“Sure, I’m willing to do that, but I would say that almost everything I see is from the left-wing, not from the right-wing. I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace,” said Trump.

“Well, then, do it, sir,” replied Wallace.

“Say it,” Biden interjected. “Do it. Say it.”

“You want to call them, what do you want to call them?” Trump replied. “Give me a name. Go ahead, who would you like me to condemn?”

“White supremacists,” Wallace interjected.

“Proud Boys,” Biden interjected, referring to the far-right group.

“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” said Trump. “But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem.”

Jewish groups slammed Trump passing on the opportunity to condemn white supremacism.

“It’s astonishing that, when asked a simple question, will you condemn white supremacists, @POTUS responded “The Proud Boys should stand back and stand by.” Trying to determine if this was an answer or an admission. @POTUS owes America an apology or an explanation. Now,” tweeted Anti-Defamation League national director and CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

The American Jewish Committee tweeted, “@potus—Bigots, racists, and antisemites are rejoicing at your refusal to condemn white supremacy. There can be no ambiguity on this issue. White supremacists should not just be told to ‘stand by’—they need to be renounced completely.”

“Donald Trump embarrassed himself, disgraced our country and behaved indecently tonight. By refusing to condemn white supremacism, Trump has stained our nation,” said Democratic Majority for Israel president and CEO Mark Mellman in a statement. “Our national soul needs to be restored and Joe Biden has proven that he alone is capable of achieving that vital goal.”

“Tonight Trump refused to condemn white nationalists. He issued a dog whistle to bigots. He refused to concede power if he lost. He intentionally cast doubt on the integrity of the election. How can anyone possibly support him, including the @RJC? He’s an absolute and utter shame,” tweeted Jewish Democratic Council of America executive director Halie Soifer, putting her organization’s counterpart, the Republican Jewish Coalition, on the spot.

The RJC, however, came to Trump’s defense.

“The president has been very clear on denouncing anti-Semitism and racism in all forms,” tweeted RJC, providing a link to a page that documents Trump’s past of calling out white supremacism and other bigotry.

Support Jewish Journalism
with 2020 Vision

One of the most intriguing stories of the sudden Coronavirus crisis is the role of the internet. With individuals forced into home quarantine, most are turning further online for information, education and social interaction.

JNS's influence and readership are growing exponentially, and our positioning sets us apart. Most Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas. JNS is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

During this crisis, JNS continues working overtime. We are being relied upon to tell the story of this crisis as it affects Israel and the global Jewish community, and explain the extraordinary political developments taking place in parallel.

Our ability to thrive in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters. Monthly donations in particular go a long way in helping us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make during these challenging times. We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you blessings for good health and peace of mind.