Israel defends Trump amid Pittsburgh synagogue shooting criticism

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 31.10.2018 21:59

Israel's envoy to the memorial ceremonies for the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims says it's "unfair and wrong" to link the tragedy to President Donald Trump.

Naftali Bennett, the Israeli minister for diaspora affairs, lauded Trump's support for Israel and his denunciation of anti-Semitism, saying: "With President Trump, we never have to worry if he has our backs."

Israel's envoys to the United States and the Union Nations have also tried to distance Trump from the attack.

His comments late Tuesday came as Trump paid a visit to Pittsburgh amid accusations that the president's fiery rhetoric had contributed to the climate of violence. Top elected officials avoided him and one of the families of the 11 victims asked not to meet him.

Around 1,500 people took to the streets of Pittsburgh Tuesday to demonstrate peacefully in song against a visit by Trump and to mourn 11 Jewish worshipers killed in a synagogue. The crowd of all ages and faiths, including many young families, c

hildren and the elderly, marched for six blocks holding signs that read "President Hate, Leave Our State!" and "Trump's Lies Kill." They marched through leafy Squirrel Hill, the tolerant and diverse neighborhood that has been a beating heart of Pittsburgh's Jewish community, home to the synagogue where Saturday's carnage took place. The assault on the 150-year-old congregation was the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in recent U.S. history.

A group of Pittsburgh Jewish leaders wrote an open letter to President Donald Trump Sunday telling him he bears responsibility for a deadly shooting at a synagogue in the U.S. city. "For the past three years your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement. You yourself called the murderer evil, but yesterday's violence is the direct culmination of your influence," the open letter said, as reported by Agence France-Presse (AFP). It called on Trump to "fully denounce white nationalism," to "stop targeting and endangering all minorities," to "cease your assault on immigrants and refugees" and to "commit yourself to compassionate democratic policies that recognize the dignity of all of us." Until he does so, Trump, who has announced his intent to visit Pittsburgh, is not welcome in the city, the letter said. While Trump offered condolences to the victims, he has yet to denounce white nationalism, which many believe to be the motive for the attack.

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