Efraim Zuroff believes that a statement by the Prime Minister would have been insulting to the White House. But he is disturbed by Trump's equivalence of 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, as the US government can be relied on to tackle the problem, said Efraim Zuroff, a Nazi hunter.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did well not to speak publicly about Friday's manfestation, Zuroff said, because any condemnation would have been perceived as insulting to the administration.
"I think he was right not to go for it," said US-based Zuroff, director of Israel's Simon Wiesenthal Center, which regularly calls Israel to act against anti-Semitism around 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 comment on the events in Charlottesville, he said. "To some extent, it is insulting to the country concerned if Israel is to speak out on every such event. "
Highlighting the special relationship between Jerusalem and Washington, Zuroff said, "I do not think the Israeli government should do it everywhere and every time ... I would say that the most important reactions, from the Israeli government, take place to be when there is a great physical danger to the Jews, and it is clear that the local government is not able or willing to handle the problem. "
Although the Charlottesville rally, in which the neo-Nazis marched in broad daylight, waving flags with swastikas, chanting "the Jews will not replace us," was "an open demonstration of racism," Zuroff added. there was no need for the European leaders to condemn it publicly, because the local authorities could be relied on to tackle the problem head-on, without Jerusalem enjoining it.
The violence that followed Friday's rally was "a failure" in the sense that the police failed to protect the public, Zuroff said. However, it is likely that this incident will not happen again, because the local authorities will make sure to be vigilant in the future. "They do not need the Israeli government to do that," he said.
Unlike Jewish communities in Eastern Europe, American Judaism does not need Israel to defend it, said Zuroff, who was born in New York City, before immigrating to Israel in 1970. .
"American Judaism 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 are not in danger of overthrowing the government, or anything like that, and the US government is willing to handle these things. "
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, to put pressure on the governments of the Baltic countries, Croatia, Hungary Ukraine, and Poland, to put an end to what he calls the disinformation of the Holocaust, downplaying the role of their respective governments in the murder of the Jewish population during the Second World War, and to placed Nazism and communism on the same plane.
In this context, 69-year-old Zuroff was quite critical of Netanyahu's meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who, a few days before the arrival of the Israeli prime minister, had greeted Miklos Horthy, a national war hero. Netanyahu claimed to have discussed the matter with Orban, and the Hungarian leader admitted that he did not support the Jewish community. Even though this admission of guilt was unprecedented, opponents deemed it insufficient, because the Hungarian leaders were heavily involved in the Jewish genocide.
Netanyahu has been attacked by opposition politicians and by many experts about his silence on the events in Charlottesville and on the reaction of US President Donald Trump, who shared the blame for Saturday's violence, between the supremacists whites and those who demonstrated against them.
After 3 days of silenceOn Wednesday, Netanyahu posted a vague statement on Twitter opposing "anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and racism". He did not specifically refer to the events in Chalottesville. "It's for here [Israel], not for there," Zuroff said. Times of Israel at his office in Jerusalem, paraphrasing the good word of Henry Kissinger, who had said that Israel had no foreign policy, only domestic politics. "Because he could not ignore what was being said, that's why he did it. "
Some analysts explained that Netanyahu's decision to lay low on the events in Charlottesville was a move not to confront the American president. To choose between denouncing anti-Semitism in the Diaspora or avoiding rubbing shoulders with the leader of the free world - which is a crucial element to Israel's internal security - the Prime Minister chose the second, they assumed.
Zuroff also believes that it is likely that this was Netanyahu's reasoning, and maintains that it is a "decidedly" legitimate position.
Trump, however, should have reacted immediately and condemned the events taking place in his country, he said. The president is not racist, ensures Zuroff, but in his desire to stand out from his predecessor Barack Obama, whose "impulsive reaction would have been, rightly, to immediately condemn the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville," Trump took his time before condemning the rally.
The president then made "a grave mistake" on Tuesday, saying that "both parties are responsible" and that "there were people from both sides," Zuroff added.
Although it is possible to imagine that there were anti-Semites in the extreme left camp, "this equivalence is dangerous," said Zuroff. "I am very disturbed by the fact that Trump did not immediately identify the culprits. I am very disturbed by the false equivalence he created. "