Efraim Zuroff believes that a statement by the Prime Minister would have been insulting to the White House. But he is troubled by Trump's equivalence about neo-Nazis and their opponents
The Israeli government was right to remain silent in the face of the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville last week, since the US government can be counted on to tackle the problem, claimed Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was right not to speak publicly about Friday's protest, Zuroff said, because any condemnation would be seen as insulting to the administration.
"I think he was right not to go for it," said Zuroff, a US-born director of the Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which regularly calls on Israel to take action against the anti-Semitism that plagues the world. “The government does not have to react as if the fate of the Jews depends on a declaration by the Prime Minister. This is not the case. »
Moreover, it would be "rude" for an Israeli leader to speak out about the events in Charlottesville, he said. “To a certain extent, it is insulting to the country concerned if Israel has to [speak out] on every such event. »
Underscoring the special relationship between Jerusalem and Washington, Zuroff said: "I don't think the Israeli government has to do it everywhere and every time...I would say that the most important reactions, on the part of the Israeli government, take place to be when there is a large-scale physical danger to Jews, and it is clear that the local government is unable, or unwilling, to handle the problem”.
Although the Charlottesville rally, in which neo-Nazis marched in broad daylight, waving swastika flags, chanting "Jews won't replace us," was "an open display of racism," Zuroff added. , there was no reason for the European leaders to condemn it publicly, because the local authorities could be counted on to tackle the problem head-on, without Jerusalem ordering it to do so.
The violence that followed Friday's rally was "a miss," in the sense that police failed to protect the public, Zuroff said. However, it is likely that this incident will not happen again, because local authorities will make sure to be vigilant in the future. "They don't need the Israeli government to do this," he said.
Unlike Eastern European Jewish communities, American Jewry doesn't need Israel to defend it, said Zuroff, who was born and raised in New York before immigrating to Israel in 1970 .
“American Jewry is not in danger. A single Jew can be attacked by a neo-Nazi, but these people do not pose a threat to the Jewish community as a whole. They're in no danger of overthrowing the government or anything like that, and the US government is willing to handle these matters. »
Zuroff, who is described as the last active Nazi-hunter, said it is important for Jerusalem to speak out against the situation in Eastern Europe, put pressure on the governments of the Baltic countries, Croatia, Hungary , Ukraine, and Poland, to end what he calls Holocaust disinformation, downplaying the role of their respective governments in the murder of the Jewish population during World War II, and to have placed Nazism and Communism on the same plane.
In this context, Zuroff, 69, was quite critical of Netanyahu's meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who days before the Israeli prime minister's arrival hailed Miklos Horthy, a national war hero. Netanyahu said he raised the subject with Orban, and the Hungarian leader admitted not supporting the Jewish community. Although this admission of guilt was unprecedented, opponents deemed it insufficient, because Hungarian leaders were heavily implicated in the Jewish genocide.
Netanyahu has come under attack from opposition politicians and many pundits over his silence on the Charlottesville events and the reaction of US President Donald Trump, who shared the blame for Saturday's violence among supremacists whites and those who demonstrated against them.
After 3 days of silenceOn Wednesday, Netanyahu tweeted a vague statement opposing “anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and racism.” He did not specifically refer to the events in Charlottesville. "It's for here [Israel], not for there," Zuroff told the Times of Israel at his office in Jerusalem, paraphrasing the witticism of Henry Kissinger, who said that Israel had no foreign policy, only a domestic policy. “Because he couldn't ignore what was being said, that's why he did it. »
Some analysts explained that Netanyahu's decision to lay low on the Charlottesville events was a move to avoid confronting the US president. Given the choice between exposing anti-Semitism in the Diaspora or avoiding the leader of the free world – who is crucial to Israel's internal security – the prime minister chose the latter, they surmised.
Zuroff also believes that it is likely that this was Netanyahu's reasoning, and maintains that it is a "resolutely" legitimate position.
Trump, however, should have reacted immediately and condemned the events taking place in his country, he continued. The president is not racist, assures Zuroff, but in his desire to distance himself from his predecessor Barack Obama, whose "impulsive reaction would have been, quite rightly, to immediately condemn the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville", Trump took its time before condemning the gathering.
The president then made "a big mistake" on Tuesday, saying that "both sides are responsible" and that "there were people coming from both sides," Zuroff added.
Although it is possible to imagine that there were anti-Semites in the far left camp, “this equivalence is dangerous,” Zuroff asserted. “I am very disturbed that Trump did not immediately identify the culprits. I am very disturbed by the false equivalence he has created. »
Source: © Netanyahu was right not to condemn Charlottesville events, says Nazi hunter | The Times of Israel