Violent Anti Trump Protesters Only Boost Support For Trump

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday faced mounting pressure to make a formal statement critical of President Trump's response to the anti-Semitism and violence displayed by weekend protesters in Charlottesville, Va.

Netanyahu issued no immediate statement following the weekend’s violence, which involved neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan and other racist groups. On Tuesday, in his only comment on the events so far, Netanyahu tweeted “Outraged by expressions of anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and racism. Everyone should oppose this hatred,” but, as critics were quick to point out, the post was made only in English and not on the prime minister's personal account. 

Opposition figures have been quick to condemn the prime minister, who is known for public admonitions of expressions of anti-Semitism around the world.

In an op-ed published in the daily Haaretz, Labor Party parliamentarian Stav Shafir wrote “Even after U.S. President Donald Trump’s historic comments on Tuesday, where the president of the United States uttered statements that should never be said, Netanyahu stayed silent and shamed the Israeli people as a whole.”

Trump on Tuesday blamed last weekend's violence in Charlottesville on anti-racism protesters as well as white supremacist groups. A day earlier he had condemned the racist groups widely seen as responsible for the violence.

Netanyahu allies who have spoken out have been reluctant to criticize Trump or Netanyahu by name.

On Saturday, Netanyahu’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett, a member of the right-wing Jewish Home party, said “American leaders must condemn and denounce the displays of anti-Semitism seen over the past few days."

In a Wednesday “message to the American Jewish community,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, said, “The very idea that in our time we would see a Nazi flag -- perhaps the most vicious symbol of anti-Semitism -- paraded in the streets of the world's greatest democracy, and Israel's most cherished and greatest ally is almost beyond belief.”

But Thursday newspapers in Israel reflected widespread shock. The front page of the mass distribution daily Yediot Ahronot was covered with a picture of Trump and the single word "SHAME." Ma’ariv, a paper on the center right, led with  the headline "Presidential Embrace for Extreme Right."

Last February, during a visit to the White House, Netanyahu said “there is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than Donald Trump.”

Late Thursday, in an apparent attempt to mitigate the damage for Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Israeli radio that “it is unbearable to see Nazi symbols in the greatest democracy on Earth, the United States” but the “U.S. doesn't need our advice on how to handle this.”

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