B’nai B’rith International welcomes President Donald J. Trump calling attention to recent anti-Semitism during his address to a joint session of Congress. Close to the top of his speech, Trump mentioned the spate of bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers and other Jewish institutions, and said that we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.
We now look forward to forceful measures taken by the administration to respond to these anti-Semitic acts. Anti-Semitism is a human rights issue, a distinct phenomenon that must be addressed as such.
We have called for the appointment of a special coordinator to address domestic anti-Semitism. This official would focus efforts to monitor anti-Semitic hate crimes and pursue those responsible. He or she would also cooperate with officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security in their efforts to keep Jewish communities safe from threats.
We also commend the president for noting during his address that he’s in favor of new sanctions on entities that support Iran’s ballistic missile program. B’nai B’rith supports new sanctions against Iran. We were also pleased to see the president pursue a reboot with Israel, reaffirming what he called “our unbreakable alliance with the State of Israel.”
B’nai B’rith has long called for comprehensive immigration reform. Deportation and enforcement must also be coupled with a path to citizenship that is more efficient than our current procedures. The president’s dramatic focus on deportation was troubling.
We hope as the president’s infrastructure rebuilding plans move ahead, funds are included for affordable housing for seniors. B’nai B’rith, the largest national Jewish sponsor of low-income housing for seniors, has a long commitment to safe, affordable housing for seniors. Infrastructure plans should include helping seniors of low-income to live independently.
We believe in access to health insurance for all. There are very real concerns that a repeal without a full-fledged replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act would mean vulnerable people would lose coverage. Any reform should commit to including preventive health screenings for people of all ages. We were pleased to see the president address the high cost of prescription drugs, as steep prices of vital medicines can be particularly burdensome for many seniors.
Though the president talked about replacing the ACA, the details still remain elusive.
We recognize that these addresses to Congress and the nation are meant to present big ideas and frame the president’s top priorities. We will use these insights to work with the White House on issues important to our organization and constituencies.