President Donald Trump (R) greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a joint news conference at the White House. .
(photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday gave his unequivocal backing to US President Donald Trump as a “great friend to the Jewish people.”
His words come precisely at a time when American Jews fear that his entry into the White House has sparked a new wave of anti-Semitism.
“I’ve known the President and I’ve known his family and his team for a long time, and there is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than President Donald Trump. I think we should put that to rest,” Netanyahu said at a joint press conference at the White House.
He echoed that sentiment when he briefed reporters after the meeting.
“We do not have a greater friend than President Trump,” Netanyahu said.
It’s an endorsement that is likely to put him at odds the American Jewish community, the majority of whom voted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and who oppose Trump’s anti-immigration policies.
American Jewry was particularly upset that Trump did not mention the six-million Jews the Nazis killed in World War II when he issued a statement for International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Netanyahu did not criticize Trump’s statement nor did he mention it during his meeting with Trump in the White House.
The issue was brought up in preparatory staff meetings between Israeli and American official in advance Netanyahu’s visit to Washington, the prime minister told reporters.
“There is no doubt that the president and his team understand the significance of the Holocaust” as a historical event that specifically targeted the Jewish people, Netanyahu said.
At their joint press conference, Trump ducked a question posed to him about antisemitism.
But he did briefly reference the Holocaust in his opening remarks when he said, “The State of Israel is a symbol to the world of resilience in the face of oppression -- I can think of no other state that's gone through what they've gone -- and of survival in the face of genocide. We will never forget what the Jewish people have endured.”
Netanyahu thanked Trump for his support and said, “Our alliance [with the US] has been remarkably strong, but under your leadership I’m confident it will get even stronger. I look forward to working with you to dramatically upgrade our alliance in every field -- in security, in technology, in cyber and trade, and so many others.
Netanyahu told a reporter that with Trump in the White House it was possible to “dramatically” strengthen and upgrade Israel’s ties with its greatest ally, the United States.
It’s a “new day” in Israeli-US ties, Netanyahu said.
In a press release after the meeting, the White House echoed his words.
“It is a new day for the United States-Israel relationship, defined by a responsible approach to the challenges and opportunities our two countries face in the Middle East,” the White House said.