Alarm in Ger­many, Is­rael as US su­prem­a­cists ride Trump wave Video shows Nazi salutes in re­sponse to ‘Hail Trump’ cry

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

German Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s govern­ment is con­cerned that white su­prem­a­cists in the United States are be­ing em­bold­ened by the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump and is watch­ing de­vel­op­ments closely, se­nior of­fi­cials said. The Ber­lin govern­ment de­clined to give an of­fi­cial re­ac­tion to a video cir­cu­lat­ing on the in­ter­net which showed mem­bers of the “alt-right” move­ment, a group­ing that in­cludes neo-Nazis, white na­tion­al­ists and anti-Semites, meet­ing on Satur­day in Wash­ing­ton a few blocks from the White House.

But one se­nior of­fi­cial close to Merkel de­scribed the video which shows a speaker shout­ing “Hail Trump” and some au­di­ence mem­bers mak­ing the Nazi salute - as “re­pul­sive and wor­ry­ing”. “I don’t think this is Trump’s ide­ol­ogy be­cause he seems to be largely free of ide­ol­ogy. But these peo­ple are rid­ing on his coat­tails. We are watch­ing this very closely,” the of­fi­cial said, re­quest­ing anonymity. Yair Lapid, a mem­ber of the for­eign af­fairs and de­fense com­mit­tee in the Is­raeli Knes­set, called the video “sick­en­ing” and “in­tol­er­a­ble”.

“One of the great­est mis­takes hu­man­ity ever made was a fail­ure to rec­og­nize the dan­ger of fas­cism early enough and tackle it head on,” said Lapid. “We can­not let his­tory re­peat it­self.” A spokesman for the Trump-Pence tran­si­tion team said on Mon­day that Trump “con­tin­ued to de­nounce racism of any kind” and was elected to be “a leader for every Amer­i­can.” Trump, who has been ac­tive on Twit­ter in re­cent days, has not com­mented di­rectly on the meet­ing him­self. It came days after he out­raged many Democrats, rights ac­tivists and mi­nor­ity groups by ap­point­ing Steve Ban­non, for­mer head of a web­site linked to the alt-right, as his chief White House strate­gist.

In the video, taken in­side the con­fer­ence and pub­lished by The At­lantic, Richard Spencer, a leader of the “alt-right” move­ment, says America be­longs to white peo­ple, who he de­scribes as “chil­dren of the sun”. He de­nounces the move­ment’s crit­ics as “the most de­spi­ca­ble crea­tures who ever walked the planet”. “Hail Trump, hail our peo­ple, hail vic­tory!” Spencer shouts at one point as some mem­bers of the au­di­ence raise their arms in the Nazi salute. The gath­er­ing on Satur­day drew pro­test­ers who blocked traf­fic around the Ron­ald Rea­gan Build­ing, a fed­er­ally owned con­fer­ence cen­tre in down­town Wash­ing­ton for both pub­lic and pri­vate use.

David Har­ris, CEO of the Amer­i­can Jewish Com­mit­tee (AJC) in New York, said fringe groups es­pous­ing anti-Semitism and tar­get­ing mi­nori­ties had emerged from the US pres­i­den­tial cam­paign with a “vigor” that has not been seen in decades. “Pres­i­dent-elect Trump is­sued a state­ment (about the Satur­day meet­ing) but, as­sum­ing this group en­dures, will need to con­tinue to find other op­por­tu­ni­ties to make crys­tal clear that he is the pres­i­dent of all Amer­i­cans and con­demns the alt-right and what it stands for,” Har­ris told Reuters in re­sponse to writ­ten ques­tions about the meet­ing.

In Ger­many, which has spent the past 70 years aton­ing for its Nazi past, us­ing the “Heil Hitler” salute and other Nazi sym­bols is il­le­gal and can re­sult in a prison sen­tence of up to six months. Other Euro­pean coun­tries in­clud­ing Aus­tria and France have sim­i­lar laws. A sec­ond German govern­ment of­fi­cial said Trump’s de­ci­sion to bring Ban­non into the White House showed he was “not will­ing to forgo the move­ment and mo­bi­liza­tion of anger and re­sent­ment” that swept him to the pres­i­dency. Guy Ver­hof­s­tadt, for­mer Bel­gian prime min­is­ter and a mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, ac­cused Ban­non on Tues­day of seek­ing to in­flu­ence elec­tions in France and Ger­many next year with the launch of new Bre­it­bart News web­sites in Europe.

Amer­i­can al­lies face a del­i­cate bal­anc­ing act when re­act­ing to in­ci­dents and events like the one on Satur­day, which have no di­rect link to Trump but seem fu­elled by his cam­paign, in which he called Mex­i­cans rapists and floated the idea of reg­is­ter­ing Mus­lims like the Nazis did with Jews. David Keyes, for­eign me­dia spokesman for the Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, said in re­sponse to a Reuters query about the Wash­ing­ton meet­ing: “Prime Min­is­ter Ne­tanyahu con­demns an­tiSemitism ev­ery­where and ap­pre­ci­ates Pres­i­dent-elect Trump’s de­nun­ci­a­tion of all forms of racism.”

Pin­chas Gold­schmidt, pres­i­dent of the Con­fer­ence of Euro­pean Rab­bis, told Reuters that the United States ap­peared to be “veer­ing away” from its own moral stan­dards and might need to re­ex­am­ine its stance on free speech. “If words like this were used in Ger­many or Aus­tria or France the peo­ple would have got­ten in trou­ble with the law,” he said, re­fer­ring to the Wash­ing­ton meet­ing. “So­cial me­dia has cre­ated huge change. It has em­pow­ered and am­pli­fied the voices on the fringes. There may be a need in the United States to con­sider changes or lim­its to free speech to ad­dress this.” — Reuters

NEW YORK: A group of women pose for a selfie out­side Trump Tower in New York. — AP

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