At a press conference in mid-February, Donald Trump said something that was, even for him, astonishing. He predicted that when authorities discovered the perpetrators of the anti-Semitic attacks that had broken out since his election, “It won’t be my people,” who had committed them. “It will be the people on the other side.” He repeated the thought later that month, reportedly telling state attorneys general that the bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers across the country may be “the reverse” of what they appear and may have been committed “to make others look bad.”
Democrats and officials of Jewish organizations officials were appalled. Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, declared: “We are astonished by what the President reportedly said.” Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center, which combats bigotry, asked, “Mr. President, have you no decency? To cast doubt on the authenticity of Anti-Semitic hate crimes in America constitutes Anti-Semitism in itself.” When the Trump adviser Anthony Scaramucci repeated Trump’s claims, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer called them “absurd and obscene.”
But it now appears that Trump may have been, partially, right. On Thursday, Israeli police arrested a Jewish Israeli American teenager for leveling some of the bomb threats. Earlier this month, prosecutors charged Juan Thompson, an African American who had previously worked at a left-leaning publication, with some of the others. There’s no evidence that either suspect tried to frame Trump supporters or white supremacists. And it’s still possible that right-wingers called in other bomb threats, or committed some of the other anti-Semitic incidents that have erupted since Trump’s election. Still, if two of the primary perpetrators of the JCC bomb scares turn out to be a Jewish Israeli and a left-leaning African American, that will, indeed, turn out to be “the reverse” of what Trump’s critics expected.