Israeli officials rejected comments promoting an anti-Trump agenda in public discourse following the anti-Semitic attack in Pittsburgh.
By Associated Press and World Israel News
Naftali Bennett, Israel’s envoy to the memorial ceremonies for the synagogue shooting victims, came to US President Donald Trump’s defense, saying it was “unfair and wrong” to link him to the tragedy, which represents the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history.
While Pennsylvania’s governor and the mayor of Pittsburgh declined to join Trump during the visit, Bennett, the Israeli minister for diaspora affairs, took issue with those he said were “using this horrific anti-Semitic act to attack President Trump.”
Adding to the anger was the shooting suspect’s apparent targeting of a synagogue because of his outrage over a Jewish refugee agency that has become a target of conspiracy theories among Trump’s nationalist base.
“This is unfair and wrong,” said Bennett, who rushed to Pittsburgh after the shootings to offer Israel’s support to city’s Jewish community. “President Trump is a true friend of the state of Israel and to the Jewish people. With President Trump we never have to worry if he has our backs.”
Israel’s envoys to the United States and the United Nations have also distanced Trump from the attack.
Their defense of the president has added another element to the growing divide between Israel’s leadership, which hails Trump for his staunch political backing and tough stance against nemesis Iran, and certain members of the American Jewish community, some of whom are among Trump’s toughest domestic critics.
One of the families of the 11 victims, for instance, specifically asked not to meet Trump.
Trump visited the Tree of Life synagogue and lit candles for the victims before visiting survivors in the hospital. He was accompanied by his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, both of whom are Jewish, as well as Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer.
Dermer also backed Trump, saying he was “not aware of a single non-Israeli leader that has made such a strong statement in condemning anti-Semitism.”
The Israeli government’s support for Trump has far less to do with his domestic policies in the US and more with the support he has granted Israel.
Fulfilling a campaign promise, Trump recognized that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and moved the U.S. Embassy there.
In a break from previous administrations, he also identified the Palestinians as the cause of failed peace talks and refrained from criticizing the presence of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
In addition, he pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement, a step welcomed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.