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Israeli Minister: ‘Unfair and Wrong’ to Connect Trump to Pittsburgh Attack

© AP Photo / Evan Vucci / President Donald Trump
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Israeli Minister for Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett came to the defense of US President Donald Trump after the latter faced criticism following the Tree of Life synagogue attack in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Bennet stood up for Trump while giving his condolences to the American Jewish community in Pittsburgh, having flown in from Israel, Fox News reported.

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“This is unfair and wrong. President Trump is a true friend of the state of Israel and to the Jewish people. With President Trump, we never have to worry if he has our backs,” said Bennet.

Trump came under fire Tuesday, facing hundreds of chanting protesters during his visit to the Tree of Life synagogue, where a gunman killed 11 people on Saturday. One of the families of the victims specifically asked not to meet with the president. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto also declined to join Trump during this visit. It has been reported that attacker chose to target the synagogue because of his outrage over the activities of a Jewish refugee resettlement agency.

The president, First Lady Melania Trump, Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, as well as Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, visited the Pittsburgh synagogue Tuesday and lit candles for the victims before visiting survivors in the hospital. Dermer also showed his support for the US president in an interview with MSNBC, saying he was "not aware of a single non-Israeli leader that has made such a strong statement in condemning anti-Semitism."

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The polemic about Trump’s visit to Pittsburgh came as a part of a larger argument between the Israeli government, which has been supportive of Trump, and the more liberal American Jewish community, which has accused Trump of contributing to a dangerous and polarized atmosphere with his conduct and his positions on immigration.

In his presidency thus far, Trump has displayed support for Israel, fulfilling his campaign promise to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moving the US embassy there. He also put the blame for failed peace talks between Israel and Palestine on the latter and withdrew the US from 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran – a step welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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