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People in Israel are following news about anti-Semitic crimes here in the U.S., like the toppling of tombstones in a Jewish cemetery and bomb threats against Jewish community centers. Some Israelis wonder whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has downplayed the incidents to help keep pressure off his political ally, President Trump. NPR's Daniel Estrin reports from Jerusalem.
DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: President Trump initially deflected questions about these types of incidents against Jewish institutions, but yesterday he said they were horrible and painful. Speaking on a trip to Australia today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Trump had taken a strong stand against anti-Semitism. But before that, Netanyahu hadn't issued any public statements about the recent incidents in the U.S. And that has drawn some criticism, including from anti-Semitism expert Yehuda Bauer, the academic adviser of Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Memorial and Museum.
YEHUDA BAUER: He follows President Trump. He did not react immediately.
ESTRIN: Former Israeli consul general in the U.S. Daniel Shek also had criticism. He said the government usually speaks out about incidents like these overseas.
DANIEL SHEK: For much less than what has been reported is happening in the U.S. the Israeli government would have been in uproar here and rightly so.
ESTRIN: Shek, who considers himself in opposition to Netanyahu, said the reserved Israeli response now has to do with politics.
SHEK: There is so much enthusiasm in the current Israeli government about the election of Donald Trump and about what they think he stands for - I'm not sure they're right - as far as Israeli settlements and the Palestinian issue is concerned that they don't want to ruffle his feathers in any way, even at the cost of not speaking up against anti-Semitism, which I think is totally unacceptable.
ESTRIN: Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations visited Israel this week with U.S. Jewish leaders. And he says Israeli Cabinet ministers did express concern about anti-Semitism in the U.S. in their meetings. And a former adviser to Netanyahu, Dore Gold, said he didn't see anything wrong with Netanyahu's response.
DORE GOLD: There has been a tendency to politicize this whole issue of anti-Semitism in America. Opponents of the Trump administration want to blame it for anti-Semites coming out of the woodwork and attacking Jewish institutions. I think we should all be united in our struggle against anti-Semitism and not look for a fall guy for what is happening.
ESTRIN: He said Israel trusts U.S. law enforcement to root out the source of anti-Semitic acts. Daniel Estrin, NPR News, Jerusalem.
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