Incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended Donald Trump over charges he had “dined with antisemites” in the wake of the Kanye “Ye” West blowup. Netanyahu also smacked down the radical anti-Semitic Democrat Party as “governed by the radical fringe”.
Speaking to ex-NYT editor Bari Weiss, Netanyahu said that the former President had made a “mistake,” which he hoped he would not repeat, referring to Trump meeting with Kanye West, Milo Yiannopoulos, Karen Giorno and Nick Fuentes at Mar-a-Lago last Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Netanyahu praised Trump, a family friend, for what he did for Israel during his time in office.
Bari Weiss: “Last week, Donald Trump had dinner at Mar-a-Lago, his home in Florida, with Kanye West and a Holocaust denier named Nick Fuentes. Now, Trump has claimed he doesn’t know who Nick Fuentes is, but he certainly knows who Kanye is, who has spent the past many weeks on an antisemitic tear. What do you think of Trump’s decision to have dinner with Kanye and Fuentes? “
Benjamin Netanyahu: “Well, first, I condemned Kanye West’s antisemitic statements. Straight away, I thought that was just wrong and misplaced. And I think that that’s what I would say about President Trump’s decision to dine with this person I think is wrong and misplaced. I think it’s a mistake. He shouldn’t do that. He has been a tremendous supporter of Israel, and I’m unabashedly appreciative of what he did for Israel. He did great things for Israel in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, long overdue, given that it happened 3,000 years ago under King David. He moved the American embassy there. He recognized our sovereignty on the Golan Heights, from which we were attacked for years by Syria. He got out of this dangerous Iran deal, and I appreciate all that it doesn’t take away from. Also, you know, he’s been very supportive of the Jewish people. So I think he made a mistake. I hope it’s not repeated. That’s all I can tell you.”
“In the USA, you could say the Democratic Party is governed by the radical fringe.”
Netanyahu trashed claims that including Otzma Yehudit chairman Itamar Ben-Gvir and Religious Zionism party chairman Bezalel Smotrich in the government would lead to Israel adopting a radical right-wing policy.
Benjamin Netanyahu: “I’ve often heard these doom projections, but none of them materialized. I maintained Israel’s democratic nature. I maintained Israel’s traditions. This Israel is not going to be governed by Talmudic law. We’re not going to ban LGBT forums. As you know, my view on that is sharply different, to put it mildly. We’re going to remain a country of laws. I govern through the principles that I believe in. Now, the Israeli system is different than the one in the United States. Even in the United States, you could say the Democratic Party is governed by the radical fringe. No, it’s not. It’s not.”
Netanyahu insisted the Likud party would keep the Defense Ministry despite Bezalel Smotrich’s demands to become Minister of Defense: “We form the largest party in this coalition, and I’m not about to give up. People said you’re going to give up the Defense Department to one of these smaller parties. They were very worried about it. And I said that’s not going to happen. They said we’re not going to form a government if it doesn’t happen. Well, we are forming a government, and it’s not going to happen.”
Former Sayeret Matkal commando Netanyahu said his government would not tolerate terrorism from any source: “Nobody gets a break for terrorism. If you are a Jew and you commit a terrorist act, you’ll be punished and should be punished exactly like anyone else. Nobody cares. Terrorism is defined and criminality should be defined by the nature of the act, not by the nature of the perpetrator. I believe that because that’s where I come from. My father was a great historian and he had very clear views about the coexistence, as he called it, between the son of Nazareth, the son of Ishmael, and my own son, which means the Jews. I believe in that and fostered equal opportunity, which I think is a complement to equal rights. That’s not going to change—it’s very strong. That’s where you draw the line internally on that.”