Trump under fire over Charlottesville

A white supremacist trying to strike a counterprotester with a white nationalist flag during clashes in Charlottesville. Photo: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images/JTA

JEWISH leaders across the globe have condemned the violence at a white supremacist event in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend and also criticised President Donald Trump for saying that the hatred and violence came from “many sides”.

One woman, Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 others were injured, some seriously, after a car driven by an Ohio man slammed into a crowd of counter-protesters demonstrating against the neo-Nazi rally.

Two Virginia state troopers were killed when their police helicopter crashed and caught on fire while responding to clashes between white supremacist protesters and counterprotesters.

The rally featured widespread expressions of anti-Semitism, which included demonstrators carrying signs reading “Jews are Satan’s children,” Nazi flags and chants of “Jews will not replace us.”

Criticising the violence in Charlottesville, Trump stated, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”

However, he was slammed for not singling out the white supremacists for condemnation.

“We commend the opening of President Trump’s statement condemning the ‘egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence’ said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, “but are deeply troubled by the moral equivalence evident in President Trump’s statement today. White supremacists wielding Nazi flags and spewing racist vitriol need to be specifically condemned, not only violence and hate ‘on many sides.’ If our leaders can’t call out this virulent strand of hate we will surely fail to stop it.”

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt condemned the violence in a tweet posted Saturday afternoon. “Mayhem in #charlottesville. We pray for victims of #violence & condemn those who marched thru streets chanting #hate,” he tweeted.

In a statement issued later by the ADL, Greenblatt said: “This is a moment that demands moral leadership. President Trump should acknowledge that this is not a matter of equivalence between two sides with similar gripes. There is no rationalising white supremacy and no room for this vile bigotry. It is un-American and it needs to be condemned without hesitation.”

The American Jewish Committee also called on Trump to find “moral clarity”.

CEO David Harris urged the President to “make clear that our nation does not countenance the warped views of bigots, as was on display in Charlottesville”.

Condemning the rally, Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs, and Security Cabinet member Naftali Bennett stated, “The unhindered waving of Nazi flags and symbols in the US is not only offensive towards the Jewish community and other minorities, it also disrespects the millions of American soldiers who sacrificed their lives in order to protect the US and entire world from the Nazis.

“The leaders of the US must condemn and denounce the displays of anti-Semitism seen over the past few days.”

Following the furore, Trump on Monday condemned the “racist violence” at the Charlottesville event, declaring “Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and other hate groups who are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

However, on Tuesday he again said, “I think there’s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it.

“You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent.”

While he reiterated his condemnation of the alt-right, he went on to ask, “What about the alt-left that came charging at the alt-right – do they have any semblance of guilt? They came charging, clubs in hand, swinging clubs.”

Reflecting how his latest statement was interpreted, former KKK leader David Duke tweeted, “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa.”