Netanyahu: neo-Nazi slogans in the streets of America are 'no small thing'

The prime minister came under scrutiny for waiting nearly two weeks to issue a statement on the rally.

Pas de trêve pour Bibi (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Pas de trêve pour Bibi
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
People marching in the US chanting neo-Nazi slogans including “Jews will not replace us” is no inconsequential matter, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a Channel 20 interview taped Wednesday in Sochi.
This was the first time Netanyahu spoke publicly about the Charlottesville rally.
Prefacing his remarks by saying that he did not want to get into the internal US debate about the rally and President Donald Trump’s response to it, Netanyahu said, “I can say unequivocally: It’s no small thing that people march with Nazi, neo-Nazi slogans.”
The chanting of antisemitic and racist slogans is a “grave thing,” he said, adding that “antisemitism is a serious matter wherever it appears – in Europe or in the Middle East or in the United States, and that is our attitude toward it.”
Netanyahu blamed the media for not adequately covering his condemnation.
“I said, and of course our media did not exactly cover it, that these people should crawl back under the rock they came from. I usually choose my words carefully, but that was a very harsh statement. This, of course, was not covered and led to all sorts of irrelevant interpretations.”
The prime minister has come under criticism for not coming out swiftly or strongly enough about the events in Charlottesville.
On the Tuesday after the weekend of the marches, Netanyahu tweeted: “Outraged by expressions of antisemitism, neo-Nazism and racism.
Everyone should oppose this hatred.”
The statement about the need for the neo-Nazis to “crawl back under the rock” that Netanyahu spoke of in his Channel 20 interview, was not said by him publicly, but rather in a conversation with Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer.
Dermer quoted the prime minister in a Facebook post put up on his page on August 14, the Monday after the Charlottesville incidents.He called the killing of counterprotester Heather Heyer “an act of terrorism,” and said “the hate-fest on display there by neo-Nazis and Klansmen was utterly despicable.”
Dermer said he spoke to Netanyahu about the events and that the premier “asked him to convey Israel’s outrage” The Facebook post continued: “Ambassador Dermer said: ‘Prime Minister Netanyahu’s exact words were that these people should crawl back under the rock they came from.”
The Jerusalem Post reported on Dermer’s Facebook post the next day.