Some dismay as Trump holds very brief call with Jewish leaders, takes no queries

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL) (Trump without a doubt is the ‘Fraud In Chief’)(trs)

 

Some dismay as Trump holds very brief call with Jewish leaders, takes no queries

Previous such calls featured discussion, tended to last 45 minutes or more; this one-way conversation went on for roughly eight

Photograph released by the White House of President Donald Trump on a call to US Jewish leaders for the New Year, September 15, 2017 (White House)

Photograph released by the White House of President Donald Trump on a call to US Jewish leaders for the New Year, September 15, 2017 (White House)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The debate has gone on for weeks among rabbis and Jewish leaders: If President Donald Trump does not formally renounce white supremacists, is it still worth engaging in a conversation with him?

This was on much of the Jewish community’s mind since Aug. 23, when the leaders of three religious streams — Reconstructionist, Reform and Conservative — said they would not organize the annual pre-Rosh Hashanah call with the president, which the rabbinical groups had instituted at the start of the Obama administration. That call, principally for clergy, was aimed at helping to shape High Holidays.

But earlier this week, the White House said it would hold a call with Jewish leaders — one that would be in line with the calls and meetings that Jewish leaders have had with the sitting president since the Eisenhower era. It would be initiated by the White House, not the rabbis, and both lay and religious leaders would be invited.

On Friday, Trump delivered his holiday greetings in a conference call with Jewish leaders that barely lasted eight minutes. He took no questions. By contrast, calls and meetings with past presidents have included exchanges — sometimes tough — and generally lasted at least 45 minutes.

Some of the participants expressed disappointment after having done public battle with the Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative movements over whether one should engage Trump in conversation in the wake of his equivocations over white supremacists.

“Everyone would look less stupid if he had just put it on YouTube,” one said, encapsulating the one-way direction of the “conversation.”

Not invited to join Friday’s call were the Reform and Reconstructionist movements. The Conservative movement did receive an invitation but Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, the CEO of its Rabbinical Assembly, declined to participate.

All the participants who spoke to JTA asked not to be identified because the call was off the record, although the White House released a transcript Friday afternoon.

Rabbi Avi Shafran, the director of public affairs for Agudath Israel, an ultra-Orthodox group, had argued in a Forward op-ed Thursday that the rabbis who had opted out of the call with the president were missing an opportunity to raise the painful issue of the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched last month in Charlottesville, which culminated in an attack by an alleged white supremacist that killed one counterprotester and wounded at least 20 others.

Hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the ‘alt-right’ march down East Market Street toward Emancipation Park during the Unite the Right rally August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“There is a difference between respectfully asking a president to clarify that he does not equate proponents of white supremacism with protesters against the same and, however one might feel about him, publicly and starkly insulting our nation’s duly elected national leader,” he said.

In the end, there were no surprises. Trump covered the standard range of issues in these calls and did not depart from the script.

Anti-Semitism and bias: “We forcefully condemn those who seek to incite anti-Semitism, or to spread any form of slander and hate — and I will ensure we protect Jewish communities, and all communities, that face threats to their safety,” he said.

Israel: “The United States will always support Israel not only because of the vital security partnership between our two nations, but because of the shared values between our two peoples,” he said.

Trump noted that his ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, was making a priority of keeping international bodies from singling out Israel for criticism.

“I can tell you on a personal basis, and I just left Israel recently, I love Israel,” he said.

Peace: “This next New Year also offers a new opportunity to seek peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, and I am very hopeful that we will see significant progress before the end of the year,” the president said. “Ambassador David Friedman, Jared [Kushner], Jason [Greenblatt], and the rest of my team are working very hard to achieve a peace agreement. I think it’s something that actually could happen.” Friedman is the ambassador to Israel, Kushner is his son-in-law and a top adviser, and Greenblatt is his top international negotiator.

Kushner, an observant Jew, opened the call by introducing the president, saying his father-in-law “takes great pride in having a Jewish daughter and Jewish grandchildren.” Ivanka Trump, Jared’s wife, is also a top adviser to her father. Trump closed the call by saying he and his wife, Melania, are wishing all “a sweet, healthy and peaceful new year.”

The controversy surrounding the call began last month, when the Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative movements cast their decision to cancel the call — an outcome of Trump’s equivocation after the Charlottesville violence, when he said “many sides” were to blame for the violence, and that there were “very fine people” among both the white supremacists and the counterprotesters.

US President Donald Trump speaks about the ongoing situation in Charlottesville, Virginia, at Trump National Golf Club, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Bedminster, New Jersey. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

“The president’s words have given succor to those who advocate anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia,” the joint statement said.

On Thursday, Trump again insisted that there was blame on both sides.

Those who participated in the call said that even absent a question-and-answer period, it was still better to be on the call than not.

“These are rabbis whose foremost cause should be the Jewish people and Israel,” said Morton Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America.

Klein, who was on the call, noted that he participated in similar calls and meetings with Obama, even though he rarely agreed with him.

“Why stupidly insult the president, who we need for those issues?” he asked.

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said in an email to JTA that because he was not on the call, he had no comment on what was said.

But, he wrote, “We stand by our decision to not host a High Holy Days call with the President this year. We are disappointed that the President continues to draw a false equivalency between white supremacists and counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville.”

READ MORE:

Israel becomes a gas exporter with first delivery to Jordan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Delek Drilling says it started implementing 2014 agreement to export gas in deal worth $771 million

Source: Israel becomes a gas exporter with first delivery to Jordan

Anne Frank Center: Trump Administration ‘Infected’ With ‘Anti-Semitism’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

Anne Frank center: Trump administration ‘infected’ with ‘anti-Semitism’

The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect excoriates Trump, saying his statement earlier today condemning anti-Semitism is “too little, too late” and a “Band-Aid on the cancer of anti-Semitism that has infected his own administration.”

The full statement, posted to the Anne Frank Center’s Facebook page, reads as follows:

The President’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own Administration. 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 record. Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration. The White House repeatedly refused to mention Jews in its Holocaust remembrance, and had the audacity to take offense when the world pointed out the ramifications of Holocaust denial. And it was only yesterday, President’s Day, that Jewish Community Centers across the nation received bomb threats, and the President said absolutely nothing. When President Trump responds to Antisemitism proactively and in real-time, and without pleas and pressure, that’s when we’ll be able to say this President has turned a corner. This is not that moment.

Israeli Archaeologist Censured By Islamic Guards On Temple Mount

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ALGEMEINER NEWS)

 

JANUARY 4, 2017 9:24 AM

Israeli Archaeologist Censured by Islamic Guards on Temple Mount

avatarby JNS.org

The Temple Mount. Photo: Wikipedia.

The Temple Mount. Photo: Wikipedia.

JNS.org – A preeminent Israeli archaeologist was censured by Islamic guards on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount for using the term “Temple Mount” while delivering a lecture to a group of students.

Dr. Gabriel Barkay, who gained international fame for his archaeological discoveries as part of the Temple Mount Sifting Project, was delivering a lecture to a multi-faith group of students from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) on the Temple Mount Sunday when guards from the Islamic Waqf approached him, attempting to have Barkay ejected by Israeli police for repeatedly using the name “Temple Mount,” according to The Times of Israel.

Israeli police told the Islamic guards, who patrol the site for the Jordanian-run Islamic Waqf, that they had no grounds to eject Barkay, while also telling the Israeli archaeologist to refrain from using the term for the rest of the visit. Barkay proceeded to refer to the site by its initials “TM,” the report said.

The incident comes amid Palestinian attempts to erase Jewish connection to Jerusalem’s holy sites. In October, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed a series of Palestinian-backed resolutions that referred to the Temple Mount exclusively by its Muslim names – Haram al-Sharif and Al-Aqsa Mosque – while ignoring any Jewish or Christian ties to the holy site.

Israeli ministers approve ‘Facebook bill’ to restrict online ‘incitement’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PALESTINIAN NEWS PAPER MA’AN)

 

Israeli ministers approve ‘Facebook bill’ to restrict online ‘incitement’

DEC. 27, 2016 5:38 P.M. (UPDATED: DEC. 29, 2016 1:21 P.M.)

Picture of the homepage of Facebook website. (AFP Photo / Juan Mabromata)

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israel advanced the so-called “Facebook bill” that would allow Israeli officials to force the social media giant to remove certain content through a court order if there are suspicions of “incitement.” after an Israeli ministerial committee approved the bill on Sunday.

According to the Israeli media outlet the Times of Israel, the bill, proposed by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked — members of right-wing Israeli parties Jewish Home and Likud respectively — would “only be invoked in cases of suspected incitement, where there is a real possibility that the material in question endangers the public or national security.”
Despite Facebook complying with 95 percent of the Israeli government’s removal requests in recent months, members of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, have consistently expressed their indignation that Facebook has not taken enough action to remove content inciting “acts of terror against Jews.”
The Times of Israel reported that Erdan said on Sunday that France, Germany, and other European countries already have adopted similar legislation. However, critics have accused the Israeli government of utilizing “terrorism” discourse in order to justify and further entrench the Israeli military’s half-century occupation of the West Bank and near decade-long siege of the Gaza Strip.
Erdan also defended the bill’s application to Palestinians living in the occupied Palestinian territory, using the Israeli term “Judea and Samaria,” and underscored his concerns that Facebook did not recognize Israeli military control over the West Bank.
“If someone writes something problematic and they live in Judea and Samaria, [Facebook] won’t cooperate with us and they say it’s outside of Israel and therefore they can’t cooperate,” the Times of Israel reported Erdan as saying.
In recent months, Israel has detained scores of Palestinians for social media activity, alleging that a wave of unrest that first swept the occupied Palestinian territory last October was encouraged largely by “incitement.” The violence has left 245 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces and settlers, as well as some 34 Israelis killed by Palestinians.
Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel’s decades-long military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon as reasons for the rise of unrest.
Israel has responded to the perceived threat of social media incitement by blaming Facebook for not doing more to censor posts promoting “terrorism” against Israelis.
Following a series of deadly incidents, Erdan reportedly said that Facebook chairman and cofounder Mark Zuckerberg had “blood on his hands” for not adequately cooperating with Israel to remove content.
In July, an Israeli lawyer filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Facebook Inc., claiming that the social media platform allowed members of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas to plan and carry out attacks against Americans and Israelis.Commenting on the suit against them, Facebook referenced its community standards, and highlighted its ‘report’ tool, which allows and encourages Facebook users to flag content that they deem as encouraging violence, direct threats, terrorism or hate speech.
Facebook also cited its track record regarding incitement, referencing a case in March when the company took down a page promoting a Palestinian uprising against Israel because it made “direct calls for violence,” in violation of company policies.
In September, Erdan and Shaked met with Facebook executives to discuss the matter, reportedly looking to having the terms “intifada,” “Nazis,” “stabbings,” “shahid” (martyr), and “death to Jews,” censored as incitement against the state of Israel.
Shaked and Erdan also allegedly included the phrase “death to Arabs” — a slogan often heard in protests and mobs of extremist Israelis — saying that it too, led to incitement in general.
In response to incitement claims against Palestinians, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat condemned the current Israeli government for its failure to “entrench a culture of peace and coexistence within Israeli society” in July, holding Israel responsible for incitement, saying “official Israeli discourse entrenches hatred, racism, and discriminatory attitudes against Palestinians. The discourse is only further entrenched by the institutional protection that is given to those who commit or incite violence against Palestinians.”
Shaked herself has used Facebook in the past to advocate for the killing of the mothers of slain Palestinians, referring to them as ‘snakes.’
“They should follow their sons. Nothing would be more just. They should go as should the physical houses in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise more little snakes are raised,” she wrote on the social media platform in the summer of 2014, just one day before a group of Israeli settlers attacked, beat, and burned alive Muhammad Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian teenager from occupied East Jerusalem

Biblical sheep in Israel for first time in millennia

119 Jacob’s sheep, a heritage breed mentioned in Genesis, began arriving last week

Source: Biblical sheep in Israel for first time in millennia  (This article is the courtesy of the Times of Israel News Paper)  (Please click the ‘source link’ above to get the full story)

Kerry, in stinging rebuke of settlements, doesn’t rule out UN action

(ONCE THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION IS OUT OF OFFICE I AS AN AMERICAN BELIEVE THAT BOTH THE OBAMA FAMILY AND THE KERRY FAMILY SHOULD HAVE TO BE REQUIRED TO HAVE FORCED RELOCATION FOR A PERIOD OF TWO YEARS AT THE ISRAELI BORDER WITH THE GAZA STRIP. WHAT IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR THESE HYPOCRITES ISN’T IT?)

 

Outgoing US secretary of state excoriates Netanyahu government, slams Naftali Bennett for ‘disturbing’ remarks on two-state solution

Source: Kerry, in stinging rebuke of settlements, doesn’t rule out UN action  (This article is courtesy of The Times Of Israel) (Please click the ‘Source Link’ above for the full story)

The Human Race: We Say We Want Peace Yet We Refuse To Stop Our Own Personal Violence

 

In general terms, is the human race incapable of being truthful to our own selves? What gave me the idea for this article today was my reading the Times Of Israel article about the people they have lost to violent acts of terror against them since Israel re-became a Nation. The count was over 23,000 people taken away from their families by acts of hate. The article said that in this past year that 68 IDF soldiers and police officers had died in the line of duty and 32 Israeli civilians. Folks that is an even 100 Israeli people whom hate killed, these people would most likely all be alive today if not for the ignorance of hate. Yet when we through our hate carry it to “extreme prejudice” by on purpose killing another person we have lowered ourselves into the Devils playpen. As I hope you did notice, I did not include the people of the Gaza Strip or the West Bank who died from Israelis committing violence on them. Then there is the issue of how many people in those two conclaves have been killed by their own government officials. By the accounts that I have noticed it seems that on a loose average about 10-15 of the Palestinian population die for every Israeli that dies.

 

There is a line of thought that I would like us all to follow for a moment. If you personally were the leader of either Palestinian conclave and you really hated all the Israeli people to the point that you wanted them all to die, please ask yourself this question. How much is the lives and quality of life of the citizens under your flag valued at to you personally? Are they worth nothing to you? How about 15 for 1 person in Israel? Why would any sane human being be willing to trade even 10 for 1? If you are the commander of a unit and you know that you are going to lose at least 10 of your soldiers for every one you kill of theirs if you go through with your next attack, do you still go through with it? Buddy if still would sacrifice your people like that, you are a cold-hearted piece of the Devils shit, literally!

 

The point I am trying to get to is if you really actually want peace with Israel and you want your own families to live longer healthier and happier lives then stop 100% of all violence toward everyone, and I do mean everyone.  If the Nation of Israel actually wants peace and you are not committing any acts of violence toward them, let them prove that to you, your people, and the people of the world that they want peace with you right now and forever. When you attack, Israel counter attacks and you lose far more than they do, always. So, the point is, quit all violence, everyone, then we will see who is telling the truth about wanting peace. Yet if your own personal charter states that you will not ever accept peace, why should anyone including the people and the government of Israel believe anything you have to say about anything? The only way for there to be peace anywhere in the world is if every human refuses to harm another human. Don’t be fooled, I know that peace will never happen because the human race prefers to act like Demonic fools. This is why at the Second Advent of Christ the Nations of the world will fight against Jesus and His Angels and human blood will flow to the horses reins. In other words, folks we condemn our own selves with the ignorance we refuse to let go of, the ignorance of hate, and of violence.

Hamas Demonic Government Still Trying To Mass Murder Innocent Civilians

THIS IS A COPY PASTE FROM THE ‘TIMES OF ISRAEL  4-18-2016

IDF uncovers Gaza ‘terror tunnel’ dug into Israeli territory

In first since 2014 war, army says Hamas burrowed in from the southern Strip in order to attack civilians near the border

April 18, 2016, 

Security forces discovered a “terror tunnel” inside Israeli territory coming out of the southern Gaza Strip just over a week and a half ago, the Israel Defense Forces revealed on Monday morning.

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The concrete-lined tunnel has since been “neutralized,” an army spokesperson said, but would not elaborate on whether it was destroyed or merely sealed off.

Its exact location is still being under wraps by the military censor, though it does not appear that the tunnel led directly into Holit or Sufa, the Israeli communities closest to the southern Gaza Strip.

The IDF has identified the Hamas terror organization as the group behind the tunnel’s construction and maintains it was dug “in order to carry out attacks against civilians,” a spokesperson said, though he would not discuss what specific intelligence led to that finding.

IDF soldiers use a camera to peer into the Hamas attack tunnel discovered near the Gaza border last week, in a video released on April 18, 2016. (Screen capture: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

IDF soldiers use a camera to peer into the Hamas attack tunnel discovered near the Gaza border last week, in a video released on April 18, 2016. (Screen capture: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

It is the first such tunnel discovered inside Israeli territory since the end of the war in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014. During that operation, dubbed Operation Protective Edge in Israel, at least 34 tunnels were discovered and destroyed by Israeli forces.

Following the operation, Hamas vowed to continue using tunnels and rockets to attack the Jewish state. Speaking at a rally in the Gaza Strip last week, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh again told residents: “Our message to the prisoners is a message inked in blood. The rifle and the tunnel are our commitment.”

In response to the discovery, Hamas claimed the tunnel was “old,” one that had been built prior to the 2014 conflict, according to Palestinian media.

The IDF, however, denied that claim, saying it was “a new tunnel that had been built recently.”

The tunnel was located approximately 100 feet (30 to 40 meters) below ground and extended “tens of meters into Israel.” It had been fortified with concrete slabs and featured electrical lines and a rail system, IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said.

It was discovered close to the border fence, he added.

Following the 51-day conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip in summer 2014, Israel invested an estimated NIS one billion (some $250 million) toward developing a detection system to locate such tunnels.

The army reportedly used such a system to discover this tunnel, though IDF officials stressed that technology was not the only aspect of the discovery operation, which also included extensive intelligence gathering and “boots on the ground.”

“The search for the tunnels has been at the top priority of the defense network and the IDF, and we have not held back our efforts. Dealing with the issue of tunnels is very complicated, and the State of Israel is the world-leader in the field,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Thursday.

“In the past few months, Hamas has experienced a number of cases of tunnel collapses, diggers who die as they labor and now also this c,” he said, presumably alluding to Israel’s alleged tunnel detection and destruction systems.

In February, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot hinted at this technology, saying that army had “advanced capabilities” to find Hamas’s tunnels.

“We are doing a lot, but many of [the things we do] are hidden from the public. We have dozens, if not a hundred, engineering vehicles on the Gaza border,” Eisenkot added.

Mahmoud Jasser Awad Atawna (Courtesy)

Mahmoud Jasser Awad Atawna (Courtesy)

Palestinian media claimed Israel had gotten hold of a Hamas operative who was involved in the tunnels project. Mahmoud Jasser Awad Atawna, 29, who helped oversee tunnels, was reported missing by Hamas a few days ago after residents of the Strip lost contact with him, local news outlets reported.

However, it was not clear if Atawna had turned himself in to Israeli forces or been arrested by them.

“The discovery of this tunnel in recent days is the result of ongoing work,” Southern Command head Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir said in a statement Monday. “The IDF will continue to use all of the tools at our disposal above and below ground to thwart any attempt to harm the people of the State of Israel or IDF soldiers.”

Israeli soldiers and civilians use heavy engineering equipment to discover a Hamas attack tunnel near the Gaza border last week, in a video released on April 18, 2016. (Screen capture: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

Israeli soldiers and civilians use heavy engineering equipment to discover a Hamas attack tunnel near the Gaza border last week, in a video released on April 18, 2016. (Screen capture: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Defense officials estimate that most of the tunnel was dug before the 2014 war, Army Radio reported Monday.

Ya’alon said later that part of the tunnel dated to 2014, and that new additions had been added, Channel 2 reported.

“The working assumption is that Hamas continues to build [these tunnels]. Our job is to prevent attacks against innocent civilians,” an army spokesperson said.

Though the tunnel was found just over one week ago, news of its discovery was forbidden from publication by the military censor.

The IDF worked alongside other Israeli intelligence outfits to locate the tunnel, Ya’alon said.

“The best of Israel’s forces were involved in the tunnel discovery mission, most of which was conducted far from the public eye, including the IDF, the Shin Bet and the defense industry,” he said.

Last week, Palestinian media reported the presence of at least four Israeli D9 bulldozers operating within the Gaza Strip, flattening land near the border.

According to the Ma’an news agency, those earth-movers had been inside the Strip for the previous 10 days, working under the watchful eye of Israeli drones.

On Thursday, a senior IDF officer told reporters that Hamas has been recruiting fighters and collecting material at a “surprisingly” quick pace, though the group was not yet prepared for another conflict with Israel.

However, he declared the terrorist organization would not again drag Israel into a war, and insisted any future conflict would be one undertaken at the initiative of the Jewish state.

According to the officer’s assessment, Hamas now has some 5,000 fighters in its special forces and has also filled out its middle and upper ranks with 25 battalion and brigade commanders, the official said.

An Israeli D9 bulldozer rolls along the southern Israeli border with the Gaza Strip following Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip on July 10, 2014. (photo credit: Jack Guez/AFP)

An Israeli D9 bulldozer rolls along the southern Israeli border with the Gaza Strip following Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip on July 10, 2014. (photo credit: Jack Guez/AFP)

The group has also been working tirelessly to replace the thousands of rockets, mortar shells and missiles fired at Israeli targets during Operation Protective Edge.

During the 2014 conflict, 72 Israelis and one Thai worker were killed as a result of Hamas attacks, while over 2,000 Gazans were killed in the fighting. The exact number of dead remains contentious, though the UN puts the figure at 2,251, some 35 percent of them combatants. Israel says the percentage was 50.

Amid fast-rising tensions along the border with Gaza, Israel earlier in the week carried out its largest civilian drill near the Palestinian enclave since its 2014 war with Hamas, Channel 2 reported.

Medics, the fire department and civilian response teams simulated a Hamas incursion into Israeli territory, including an attack on an Israeli kibbutz near the border and the taking of hostages by terrorists. The exercise, which was held at Kibbutz Erez, included troops overpowering the terrorists in the community’s dining hall.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

Should Donald Trump Apologize For Telling The Truth About Islamic Relations?

Israel & the Region   This information is from the Times of Israel and from the Associated Press

Muslim group to Trump: Apologize for saying ‘Islam hates us’

Civil rights organization says candidate’s rhetoric ‘reflects a bigoted mindset that only serves to divide our nation and the world’

March 11, 2016, 1:54 am 30

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Fayetteville, NC, on Wednesday, March 9, 2016. (AP/Gerry Broome)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Fayetteville, NC, on Wednesday, March 9, 2016. (AP/Gerry Broome)

FAYETTEVILLE, NC — A leading Muslim civil rights group is calling on GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump to apologize for his claim that “Islam hates us.”

In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper that aired Wednesday night, Trump was asked whether he thinks Islam is at war with the West.

“I think Islam hates us,” Trump responded. “There’s a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it. There is an unbelievable hatred of us.”

The statement drew swift condemnation from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which called on Trump to apologize for the comment, as it has in response to other comments Trump has made.

 

“Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric does not reflect leadership, but instead reflects a bigoted mindset that only serves to divide our nation and the world,” Nihad Awad, the group’s national executive director said in a statement. The group suggested Trump could do so at Thursday evening’s GOP debate.

Executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Nihad Awad. (screen capture: YouTube)

Executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Nihad Awad (screen capture: YouTube)

Trump’s statement also became an issue for Florida’s Republican Governor, Rick Scott, who repeatedly sidestepped questions in an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Scott, who says he will not endorse in the primary but is friends with Trump, was asked whether he thinks “Muslims in the state of Florida hate America.”

Scott instead shifted his answer to more general themes, calling Florida “the best melting pot in the world” and saying: “We love everybody coming to our state.” The avoidance prompted host Mika Brzezinski to suggest ending the interview early.

 

The questions come as Trump continues to dominate the Republican presidential contest, locking up delegates, despite a series of controversial statements.

Trump has called for a temporary ban on foreign Muslims entering the US and has advocated “going after” the wives and children of suspected Islamic jihadists in the wake of the Paris and San Bernardino attacks. Critics have argued that Trump’s plans would only exacerbate problems by alienating more moderate Muslims.

Trump and other Republicans have criticized President Barack Obama and the Democratic candidates for failing to use the term “radical Islamic” when referring to Muslim jihadists or attacks by them.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton once explained she avoids the term because it “sounds like we are declaring war against a religion.”

Asked by CNN’s Cooper whether he thought there was a “war between the West and radical Islam” or “war between the West and Islam itself,”Trump replied: “It’s radical, but it’s very hard to define. It’s very hard to separate. Because you don’t know who’s who.”

Trump was also pressed on his vow to work to “broaden” laws restricting waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques if he’s elected president in order to level the playing field between militants and the US.

Trump ruled out the US beheading Islamic State militants, but again did not provide additional specifics when pressed on what he’s envisioning when he says, “we have to play with a tougher set of rules.”

CAIR claims that the rhetoric of Trump and other Republican officials is at least partially to blame for a spike in anti-Muslim incidents across this country in recent months.

 

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