U.S. President Donald Trump.
(photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)
Israeli politicians called on the US government to respond firmly to neo-Nazi movements Wednesday after US President Donald Trump’s controversial press conference, in which he backtracked on criticism of the racist demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“Neo-Nazis in the US must be put on trial,” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked wrote on Twitter.
Seemingly criticizing the strict interpretation of the right to free speech in the US, Shaked added: “This was not the intention of the American Constitution. A democratic state cannot show tolerance toward such phenomena.”
Some politicians responded specifically to Trump’s statements that “there’s blame on both sides” for Saturday night’s demonstration whose invitations said it was against Jews, and in which white supremacists marched with Nazi flags and chanted “Jews will not replace us.”
During the rally, a Nazi sympathizer rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one and injuring 19.
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid said: “There aren’t two sides. When Neo-Nazis march in Charlottesville and scream slogans against Jews and in support of white supremacy, the condemnation has to be unambiguous.”
According to Lapid, the Charlottesville demonstrators “represent hate and evil. Anyone who believes in the human spirit must stand against them without fear.”
Former justice minister and Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni said that “with racism, antisemitism and Nazism there are no two sides. There is good, and there is bad, period.”
“The battle against antisemitism must be a joint one, with Israel as the state of the Jewish people, and [with] leaders in places in which it raises its ugly head,” Livni stated. “We must stand up against such phenomena immediately, and without hesitation.”
Livni’s call to stand up against antisemitism immediately is an apparent criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who waited three days, until after Trump criticized the demonstration, to say anything about it.
Netanyahu tweeted on Tuesday: “Outraged by expressions of antisemitism, neo-Nazism and racism. Everyone should oppose this hatred.”
Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer said he spoke to Netanyahu about the Charlottesville events and that the premier “asked him to convey Israel’s outrage over the attack and over the expressions of antisemitism and racism.”
Netanyahu’s “exact words,” Dermer said, “were that these people should crawl back from under the rock they came from.”
Likud MK Oren Hazan, who calls himself the “Israeli Trump,” wrote on his Twitter account that “Trump is right. Extremism and violence on all sides are prohibited and should be denounced!” Hazan apparently accepted Trump’s argument of equivalency between the white supremacist protesters and “alt-left” counter- demonstrators.
Similarly, Netanyahu’s son Yair wrote on his Facebook page: “To put things in perspective. I’m a Jew, I’m an Israeli, the neo nazis scums [sic] in Virginia hate me and my country. But they belong to the past. Their breed is dying out. However the thugs of [violent anarchist movement] Antifa and [Black Lives Matter] who hate my country (and America too in my view) just as much are getting stronger and stronger and becoming super dominant in American universities and public life.”