People gather for a vigil in response to the death of a counter-demonstrator at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, outside the White House in Washington, U.S. August 13, 2017. .
(photo credit: REUTERS / JONATHAN ERNST)
Israel must condemn Nazis but relations with US President Donald Trump are more important, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara, who lately has been one of the ministers closest to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
Netanyahu has faced criticism for not saying anything about what police said was a deliberate car-ramming into a group of people engaged in a counterprotest to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, until Tuesday, when he tweeted that he was “outraged by expressions of antisemitism, neo-Nazism and racism” and that “everyone should oppose this hatred.”
The prime minister has not commented on the issue since Trump reignited controversy on Tuesday when he blamed both sides for the violence in Charlottesville. But Kara, who sat next to Netanyahu at last week’s mass Likud rally at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds, said Israel must defend Trump.
“Due to the terrific relations with the US, we need to put the declarations about the Nazis in the proper proportion,” Kara said. “We need to condemn antisemitism and any trace of Nazism, and I will do what I can as a minister to stop its spread. But Trump is the best US leader Israel has ever had. His relations with the prime minister of Israel are wonderful, and after enduring the terrible years of Obama, Trump is the unquestioned leader of the free world, and we must not accept anyone harming him.”
Kara praised Trump for having “a proven track record in opposing antisemitism and religious extremism.”
The statements by Kara, who made similar comments on the Knesset Channel, were immediately condemned by Knesset members.
“What Kara said was nonsense,” said Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai, who heads the Knesset caucus on strengthening relations with the US.
“Our relations with the US and with the president are important, but Israel also has a deep obligation to the American Jewish community. This is the time to prove our shared values and make unequivocally clear that Israel will fight antisemitism at any time and any place.”
Zionist Union MK Erel Margalit said, “Kara, Netanyahu and their government lost their way: Israel has to condemn Nazis, period, and it should insist that the US president and the administration should condemn Nazis and any form of antisemitism categorically and unequivocally.
Let us lead with moral conviction, not follow those who supported the racist!” Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On said that “because Trump paid lip service to the settlement enterprise, Netanyahu has made him into the messiah and has forgiven him for even the most shocking, homophobic, racist, and even antisemitic statements.”
Anti-Israel activists on social media used Kara’s statement to criticize the Jewish state.
Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah wrote: “Israel wants to make sure not to alienate its white supremacist (Nazi) allies. Zionism is toxic.”
Without connection to Kara, Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis, a former Netanyahu spokesman, wrote on Facebook Thursday that “Nazis and neo-Nazis are a nauseating phenomenon that is dangerous and must not be tolerated in the US or anywhere else in the world.”
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