Israel’s largest newspaper Haaretz took aim at President Donald Trump Thursday in the wake of his pathetic response to the Parkland, Florida massacre. The tragedy was perpetrated by a White supremacist inspired gunmen Niklaus Cruz Tuesday afternoon, killing at least 19 victims and injuring dozens more.
The President, however, has yet to condemn the killer and his hateful ideology. This hesitancy bordering on refusal is odd because, as Haaretz writer Allison Kaplan Sommer points out, Trump never hesitates to do so when these acts are committed by other groups.
“The world has watched in horror as the Islamic State successfully recruited angry, frustrated and often mentally unstable young men to violence, channeling their disaffection and alienation into their warped ideology and eventually, deadly action,” Sommer’s piece opens.
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Trump made attacking Muslims a cornerstone of his campaign, second only in importance to his condemnations of Mexican immigrants and his promises to build a wall along our southern border. He even falsely criticized Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for failing to say the words “Islamic Terrorism” on multiple occasions.
“To solve a problem, you have to be able to state what the problem is or at least say the name,” he often boasted.
When it comes to people who look like him, however, the president seems incapable of “saying the name,” a dangerous exhibition of hypocrisy beautifully articulated by Sommers:
As soon as a perpetrator is identified in any way with the Arab or Muslim world, he has been quick to label the act as Islamic terrorism, usually using it as an opportunity to promote his anti-immigration political platform. But when a perpetrator of violence is linked to white supremacy or racist views, he has refused to call it out by name.
The number of murders committed by White supremacists in the United States more than doubled in 2017, according to the Anti Defamation League.
The Republic of Florida, the White Nationalist group linked to Niklaus Cruz, bills itself as “a white civil rights organization fighting for white Identitarian politics, and the ultimate creation of a white ethnostate [sic] so we can be free from anti-white policies and have policies that reflect our values as white westerners.”
President Trump has a long history of refusing to condemn groups like this, even after heinous crimes have been committed by them or on their behalf. The Israeli media is understandably more sensitive to the dangers posed by White supremacist groups, and for them to have to call out an American president – an ostensibly Republican one at that – is quite the public shaming.
Republicans like to think of themselves as the true defenders of the State of Israel., and they do their best to back up that claim. While most Democrats staunchly defend Israel’s right to exist and consider them an important ally both geopolitically and culturally, they do generally approach the Israeli-Palestinian crisis which more nuance than does the typical Republican.
That subtle difference has been exploited by the GOP message machine and their allies in the right wing media for years, and since the ascension of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party (roughly Israel’s equivalent of the GOP) Republicans have claimed the high ground on the issue.
But incidents like this, where they get dragged across the carpet by the people they claim to admire and defend, is a new low for the Republican party.