Israeli PM Netanyahu condemns US neo-Nazism, but criticised for delay

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Amir Cohen, Pool via AP) Top News

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned “neo-Nazism and racism” today, but drew criticism for taking three days to speak out about a white supremacist rally in the United States that ended in bloodshed. “Outraged by expressions of anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and racism. Everyone should oppose this hatred,” Netanyahu posted in English on his official Twitter account.

US President Donald Trump, who had been under pressure to issue a strong condemnation of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, yesterday night denounced racism while calling the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis “repugnant”. Netanyahu broke his silence toay afternoon, hours after Trump’s statement.

The right-wing Israeli leader welcomed Trump’s Republican presidency after having had a testy relationship with his predecessor , a Democrat who often pressured him over settlement building in the occupied West Bank. Netanyahu has appeared reluctant to be seen as criticising Trump.

“Guess which world leader took even longer than Trump to condemn neo-Nazism and even then couldn’t even specify where he was referring to,” Anshel Pfeffer of the left-wing Haaretz newspaper wrote on Twitter. An Israeli official told AFP on condition of anonymity that although the premier did not name Charlottesville it was the violence there to which he was referring.

During the white supremacist rally there, marchers carried swastika banners and chanted Nazi-era slogans. “Netanyahu’s silence in the face of images that send chills down the spines of Jews worldwide has raised eyebrows among analysts and experts,” the Times of Israel said in an analysis published shortly before Netanyahu’s tweet.

“When it comes to Jew hatred, Netanyahu is not usually reserved, often condemning anti-Semitic incidents that occur in the Muslim world or in Europe,” it wrote. Other Israeli officials had issued condemnations earlier. “The unhindered waving of Nazi flags and symbols in the US is not only offensive towards the Jewish community and other minorities,” Education Minister Naftali Bennet, a Netanyahu rival, said on Sunday.

“It also disrespects the millions of American soldiers who sacrificed their lives in order to protect the US and entire world from the Nazis,” he said in a statement. Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, said yesterday that Netanyahu had asked him “to convey Israel’s outrage over the attack and over the expressions of anti-Semitism and racism.”

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