NEW YORK — Donald Trump blamed the “dishonest media” for the dust-up over a tweet showing a Star of David shape and dollar bills superimposed over an image of Hillary Clinton.
On Monday, July 4, Trump made his first response to the controversy since his official account tweeted— then deleted — the image on July 2 following the uproar over possible anti-Semitic connotations and a website linked to a far-right anti-Semitic movement.
“Dishonest media is trying their absolute best to depict a star in a tweet as the Star of David rather than a Sheriff’s Star, or plain star!” the presumptive Republican presidential candidate tweeted Monday, AP reported.
The tweet, which bore the words “most corrupt candidate ever” inside a red six-pointed star, later posted a new version with a circle in place of the six-point star.
Abraham Foxman, the director emeritus of the ADL, told CNN that the tweet was “insensitive” but welcomed the campaign’s decision to delete the tweet within a few hours.
“They realized it was edgy and could be abused. I’m not sure the intentions were there but there was certainly a lack of sensitivity,” Foxman said.
A news site, Mic, traced the image’s origins to white supremacists. According to Mic, the image was previously featured on /pol/ — an Internet message board for the alt-right, an amorphous far-right movement that lives mostly online — as early as June 22.
Trump has vowed to be a strongly pro-Israel president and has noted on the campaign trail that his daughter Ivanka, the wife of businessman Jared Kushner, is an Orthodox Jew.
Jewish groups, however, have been critical of what they say is the campaign’s slow response in disavowing followers, including former Ku Klux Klan head David Duke, who have made anti-Semitic comments in defending their candidate.
At a rally in New Hampshire on June 30, however, Trump shut down a questioner who told the candidate that he’s “opposed to wasting our military in the Middle East on behalf of Zionist Israel.”
Trump told the man: “Israel is a very, very important ally of the US and we are going to protect them 100% — 100%. It’s our true friend over there.”
Later, Trump said: “That was a tough question on Israel. That was nasty. Whoa.”
Trump’s, Jewish son-in-law and campaign adviser Jared Kushner defended the presumptive Republican nominee, saying Trump “does not at all subscribe to any racist or anti-Semitic thinking.”
Kushner, who owns the New York Observer, was responding to an open letter published Tuesday in his newspaper from Observer entertainment writer Dana Schwartz, who called out Kushner for allowing perceived anti-Semitic messaging to be used in his father-in-law’s presidential campaign.
“My father-in-law is an incredibly loving and tolerant person who has embraced my family and our Judaism since I began dating my wife,” Kushner said in a statement issued Tuesday evening, Politico first reported.
“I know that Donald does not at all subscribe to any racist or anti-Semitic thinking. I have personally seen him embrace people of all racial and religious backgrounds. The suggestion that he may be intolerant is not reflective of the Donald Trump I know.”
“You went to Harvard, and hold two graduate degrees,” Schwartz wrote to Kushner, who is a top campaign adviser to Trump, his wife Ivanka’s father.
“Please do not condescend to me and pretend you don’t understand the imagery of a six-sided star when juxtaposed with money and accusations of financial dishonesty.”
Following the release of Kushner’s statement, Schwartz told Politico that her publisher’s response “seems crafted by PR, and doesn’t address the point of my article in the slightest. I’d love a real response from Mr. Kushner.”
Schwartz said she has never met Kushner and did not attempt to contact him before writing the letter.
Observer editor Ken Kurson told Politico that he did not discuss publishing the open letter with Kushner before it ran in the newspaper. He also said he personally disagrees with Schwartz’s criticism.
“No one I know sets the sensitivity meter higher than I do on anti-Semitism,” Kurson told Politico. “My mother fled the Holocaust and I am highly identified as a Jewish journalist. If I saw that in Trump, I’d be the first one to write about it, and no one on earth could stop me.
“In my opinion, Donald Trump is not a Jew hater. The effort to hold him responsible for what his supporters do is a dangerous trend because it empowers anyone who wants to shut a candidate up to simply organize some misbehavior on his behalf.”
Meanwhile, The New York Times reported Tuesday that Kushner “has become involved in virtually every facet of the Trump presidential operation, so much so that many inside and out of it increasingly see him as a de facto campaign manager.”
The Times found that Kushner helped Trump recruit a communications director, oversaw the creation of an online fundraising system and is helping him choose a running mate.
He reportedly convinced Trump to fire his former embattled campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
Kushner also advises Trump on issues involving Israel and worked on a draft of Trump’s speech to AIPAC in March.
The Trump campaign has been criticized for ignoring anti-Semitic attacks on journalists who have written critically of the candidate. Schwartz wrote that when she called out what she saw as the “blatant anti-Semitic imagery” of Trump’s tweet, she was hit with dozens of anti-Semitic tweets in response.
“Right now, this hate is directed to one of your employees, but the message applies equally to your wife and daughter,” Schwartz wrote. Ivanka Trump underwent an Orthodox conversion before marrying Kushner in 2009.
“When you stand silent and smiling in the background, his Jewish son-in-law, you’re giving his most hateful supporters tacit approval,” wrote Schwartz.
According to the Times, Kushner believes Trump’s “respect for his Jewish faith is sincere” and that the issue is “not worth addressing.”
Criticism of Trump’s “Sheriff’s Star” tweet stayed steady on Tuesday. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said the original tweet contained “anti-Semitic images.”
“Look, anti-Semitic images, they’ve got no place in a presidential campaign. Candidates should know that,” Ryan said on the Milwaukee radio station WTMJ on Tuesday.
“The tweet’s been deleted. I don’t know what flunky put this up there. They’ve obviously got to fix that.”