Benjamin Netanyahu praised Donald Trump for publicly condemning anti-Semitic acts after there were bomb threats to US Jewish centres and vandalism in a Jewish cemetery. However, I have a problem with Netanyahu praising the man who on Holocaust Memorial Day didn’t once say the word “Jews”. Could this be considered anti-Semitism in itself for the fact that it is almost a denial that the Holocaust was wholly Jewish?
After all there is a matter of context here. Trump’s most fervent supporters included outspoken anti-Semites, online trolls on the alt-right who delighted at tormenting Jewish journalists and public figures. His campaign even participated in anti-Semitic tropes, including tweeting an image of a star of David with Hillary Clinton’s face superimposed on a pile of money. His own son even used the term “warming up the gas chambers” to refer to vociferous criticism.
It is no secret that there are some media commentators in Israel that want Netanyahu to speak out more strongly against anti-Semitism. You may think that his supporting of Trump may come in here as a way of showing that he, as well as Trump, condemn anti-Semitism. But when Trump spoke out, he referenced the threats against Jews, but he spoke in such a generalised way about his hopes of making the nation less “divided”.
What Trump is doing is being vague with his speeches and most of them are barely even English in their structure. The effect this has is making the audience perceive what they want when filling in the gaps. Going back to Trump’s Holocaust Memorial Day speech, you could substitute the name of a terrorist attack or mass shooting for “the Holocaust”, and replace “Nazi terror” for “terrorism” or “gun violence” and the speech still works the exact same.
For me, the simple fact of the matter is that anti-Semitism is still on the rise and not enough people in positions of power are doing anything about it. Yes, they’ll say a little speech on the fact that it’s bad and you shouldn’t do it, but where is the heightened punishment to further ward of this behaviour?