WASHINGTON (JTA) – An array of Jewish groups condemned U.S. President Donald Trump for his retweet of three incendiary videos posted by a British anti-Muslim agitator.
“It is no longer alarming that our @POTUS is tweeting violent anti-Muslim videos created by far right extremists – it is a **four alarm fire.**,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said Wednesday on Twitter. “Of course this will embolden bigots in the US and abroad.”
Also on Twitter, the National Council of Jewish Women deemed the retweets “disgusting.” Other Jewish groups that criticized the president on Twitter included the American Jewish Committee; HIAS, the lead Jewish immigration advocacy group; Bend the Arc-Jewish Action; and the Reform movement through the director of its Religious Action Center, Rabbi Jonah Pesner.
“Using the bully pulpit of the presidency to fan the flames of xenophobia and other forms of hate is disgraceful,” Pesner said.
Trump retweeted three tweets posted by Jayda Fransen, a leader of the far-right Britain First group, who has faced legal sanctions in the past for her anti-Muslim activity. They purport to show Muslims throwing a youth off a building and beating him to death; Muslims beating a disabled Dutch boy; and a Muslim destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Fransen filled up her Twitter feed on Wednesday with news coverage of Trump’s retweets, even though in many cases the coverage was critical.
“THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, DONALD TRUMP, HAS RETWEETED THREE OF DEPUTY LEADER JAYDA FRANSEN’S TWITTER VIDEOS!” she said in a tweet. “DONALD TRUMP HIMSELF HAS RETWEETED THESE VIDEOS AND HAS AROUND 44 MILLION FOLLOWERS! GOD BLESS YOU TRUMP! GOD BLESS AMERICA! OCS” “OCS” apparently stands for “Onward Christian Soldiers.”
In 2015, Community Security Trust, England’s Jewish anti-Semitism watchdog, rejected an offer of cooperation from Britain First.
“They are a far-right, nasty, racist group that intimidates minorities, especially Muslims,” Dave Rich, a spokesman for the Community Security Trust, told The Times of Israel at the time. “The Jewish community should and will not have anything to do with them.”
CBS quoted Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, as defending the retweets. although the provenance of the videos is not certain.
“Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real,” Major Garrett, a CBS reporter, quoted Sanders as saying. “His goal is to promote strong border security and strong national security.”