NBC’s Todd Pesters Netanyahu About Donald Trump & Anti-Semitism

News & Politics

On Sunday’s Meet the Press on NBC, anchor Chuck Todd used his rare interview with incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to harass and bombard him with questions about former President Donald Trump and anti-Semitism. 

Todd started this portion of the interview by noting how Netanyahu has “a unique relationship with former President Trump.” After establishing that fact, Todd pointed out that Trump “has consistently flirted with some really fringe characters that spout this anti-semitic behavior, that preach white supremacy and white nationalism.” 

“Why does he have this difficulty, do you think?” Todd asked Netanyahu as if a foreign leader had been paying attention to this controversy at all or knew what Trump was thinking. 

Netanyahu mostly ignored Todd’s question and listed all the great things former President Trump did for the state of Israel: 

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First let me say that President Trump did great things for Israel. He recognized Jerusalem as our capital. Long overdue since King David proclaimed it as such 3,000 years ago. He moved the American embassy there and recognized our sovereignty in the Golan Heights. He got out of, what I believe is the disastrous Iran deal, that would have paved Iran’s path with gold with hundreds of billions of dollars of sanctions relief toward the nuclear arsenal. So he’s done all these great things. I appreciate it, and I remain appreciative.

On the subject of Kanye West and white supremacist Nick Fuentes who Trump had dinner with almost two weeks ago, Netanyahu said “I think it is not merely unacceptable it’s just wrong. And I hope he sees his way to staying out of it and condemning it.” 

Todd seemed miffed that Netanyahu wouldn’t completely renounce Trump and whined to him that it’s an “ends justify the means argument.” 

He made the horrific hypothetical question that if Trump’s behavior creates “death threats to Jews, inspiring people like what happened at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, to shoot and kill Jews, doesn’t that wipe away anything good he did for Israel?” 

Later on in the interview, Todd asked Netanyahu if he’s “concerned though that if your government gets what you want, you overlook whether it’s Vladimir Putin who’s also an anti-semite or Donald Trump? What is the line for you?” 

Clearly offended by what Todd suggested, he responded that “I don’t overlook anti-semitism. I have a clear position against it, which I voice and I expect others to voice as well.” 

Todd continued with the absurd questioning. Next up, he claimed: “You have been more critical of some congressional Democrats, who are critical of the Israeli government, than you are of a Donald Trump who has been elevating people who praised Hitler.”

“Does that go to this sort of transactional nature? If they are helping Israel and if they are helping Israel that’s what gotta come first?,” Todd asked. 

“Sorry, Chuck. I just nullified that argument. On this very program and on previous programs. When I came out very strongly against that meeting with those anti semitic rantings,” Netanyahu politely responded. 

Todd asked again about former President Trump: “Would you like to see Donald Trump as president again?” 

At his wits end, Netanyahu replied “oh God, I have had enough of my politics. I’ve just gone through four of our elections. You want me to get into your elections? Keep me out of it.” 

To read the relevant transcript click “expand”:

NBC’s Meet the Press
12/4/2022
1:08:18 p.m. Eastern

CHUCK TODD: You’ve got a unique relationship with former President Trump. He has consistently flirted with some really fringe characters that spout this anti-semitic behavior, that preach white supremacy and white nationalism things like that. And he doesn’t denounce it. He has yet to denounce Kanye West at all. He has yet to denounce being at a white supremacist a few days ago. Why does he have this difficulty, do you think?

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: I don’t know. First let me say that President Trump did great things for Israel. He recognized Jerusalem as our capital. Long overdue since King David proclaimed it as such 3,000 years ago. He moved the American embassy there and recognized our sovereignty in the Golan Heights. He got out of, what I believe is the disastrous Iran deal, that would have paved Iran’s path with gold with hundreds of billions of dollars of sanctions relief toward the nuclear arsenal. So he’s done all these great things. I appreciate it, and I remain appreciative. On this matter, on Kanye West and that other unacceptable guest, I think it is not merely unacceptable it’s just wrong. And I hope he sees his way to staying out of it and condemning it. 

TODD: You do seem though to — you want to praise him for what he did for you. Its ends justify the means argument. At what point does his behavior end up impact — if his behavior make creating death threats to Jews, inspiring people like what happened at the tree of life synagogue in Pittsburgh, to shoot and kill Jews, doesn’t that wipe away anything good he did for Israel? 

NETANYAHU: If it’s systemic and continues, and I doubt that it will, because I think he probably understands that it crosses a line. But if you ask me what is driving the rise of anti-semitism in France or in Britain or elsewhere, it is clearly not this or that personality. And I would say that probably what is driving it is one of the unfortunate effects of the internet age. There are many blessings of the internet age. It comes also with a curse. The curse is polarization. In the case of anti-semitism it’s the melding,  the fusion of the anti semitism from the extreme radicals left, with the extreme radical right. It fuses into Jew hatred. 

The communist blames the Jews for being capitalist, the capitalist blames the Jews for being communist. If you have a problem, blame the Jews. It is the oldest hatred as I say. One of the oldest hatreds of humanity. It was wrong then it’s wrong now. It has gotten extra life probably in the United States and in other countries by the age of the internet. I think that’s the deeper phenomenon that is happening here. 

TODD: Are you at all concerned though that if your government gets what you want, you overlook whether it’s Vladimir Putin who’s also an anti-semite or Donald Trump? What is the line for you? 

NETANYAHU: I don’t overlook anti-semitism. I have a clear position against it, which I voice and I expect others to voice as well. I just said on this program. I think if you ask—you are asking a deeper problem which I deal with in my book.

[…]

TODD: It sounds like you are explaining the question I had for you, you kind of explained it there. You have been more critical of some congressional Democrats, who are critical of the Israeli government, than you are of a Donald Trump, who has been elevating people who praised Hitler. Does that go to this sort of transactional nature? If they are helping Israel and if they are helping Israel that’s what gotta come first? 

NETANYAHU: Sorry, Chuck. I just nullified that argument. On this very program and on previous programs. When I came out very strongly against that meeting with those anti semitic rantings, in the case of at least one of the participants, seem to be something that is—how should I say this? Related to personalities. More than–probably more than views but they’re bad enough either way. You don’t exculpate them. Whoever says it for whatever reason is— You don’t praise Hitler. How can you praise Hitler? He was the greatest mass killer of all time. Anybody who praises him is wrong. Anybody who meets with him and gives him legitimacy is wrong. I’ve said it as much and I’ll continue to say it. 

TODD: Would you like to see Donald Trump as president again?  

NETANYAHU: Oh God, I have had enough of my politics. I’ve just gone through four of our elections. You want me to get into your elections? Keep me out of it. 

[…]

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