French Nazi hunter berates Trump for ‘failing to see danger’ of far-right

Serge Klarsfeld says American Jews expect a stronger response to anti-Semitism from the US president

Former Nazi hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld speak during an interview with AFP in Washington, DC, on April 29, 2019.  (NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP)
Former Nazi hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld speak during an interview with AFP in Washington, DC, on April 29, 2019. (NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP)

WASHINGTON (AFP) — France’s most famous Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld on Monday slammed the resurgence of “anti-Jewish hate,” days after a teenage gunman’s deadly attack on a synagogue in California.

“There is no safe place on earth right now for Jews,” the 83-year-old told AFP in an interview in Washington.

John Earnest, 19, posted a virulently anti-Semitic letter on right-wing internet forums and armed himself with an assault rifle before carrying out the attack on the Chabad of Poway synagogue, near San Diego, on Saturday.

He killed a 60-year-old woman and wounded three others, including the rabbi and a young child — and would have likely claimed more lives had his weapon not jammed.

It came exactly six months after a similar shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue left 11 dead, the worst attack against Jews in the history of the United States.

San Diego county sheriff deputies stand in front of the Chabad of Poway synagogue, Sunday, April 28, 2019, in Poway, Calif. A man opened fire Saturday inside the synagogue near San Diego as worshippers celebrated the last day of a major Jewish holiday. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

Trump ‘fails to see the danger’

“It’s tragic to see that on both sides of the Atlantic there has been a resurgence in attacks,” said Klarsfeld, who is also a noted historian. “Anti-Jewish hate lives on.”

Klarsfeld, who dedicated his life to bringing former Nazis to justice, was speaking alongside his equally celebrated wife Beate, who is 80.

The couple are in Washington to receive the Elie Wiesel Prize, the highest award given out by the United States Holocaust Museum.

Klarsfeld, who like the late Wiesel was born in Romania, said he was disturbed by the sometimes ambiguous stance of President Donald Trump on the rising tide of white supremacy in the US.

“I have not heard President Trump take a strong position against the far right here, whereas in France, in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, leaders of states always have a firmer response,” he said.

“Either he fails to see the danger, or he doesn’t believe it is dangerous,” added Klarsfeld.

A picture taken on February 19, 2019, shows swastikas painted on graves at a Jewish cemetery in the French town of Quatzenheim close to the German border (Frederick Florin/AFP)

“I think that the Jews of the United States, who are very grateful to him for what he did for the Jewish state, that is to say Israel, expect him to react against those who threaten the wellbeing of American Jews,” added the historian, referring to Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 2017.

The New York Times on Saturday apologized for publishing a cartoon that showed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a guide dog, wearing a collar with the Star of David, leading a blind Donald Trump who wore a kippah.

Klarsfeld said the cartoon was “insulting,” for Trump as much as for Netanyahu who was “treated like a dog.”

A caricature of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump published in The New York Times’ international edition on April 25, 2019, which the paper later acknowledged “included anti-Semitic tropes.” (Courtesy)

“It is an anti-Semitic cartoon, that is to say that Jews are guiding the world and that corresponds to a stereotype very common among the far right, which one also finds on the far left,” he said.

Klarsfeld, who spent decades working to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, is worried about the future of Europe and called on centrists to mobilize ahead of the next European elections.

“Never has a far-right or far-left regime made its people happy and prosperous, inevitably the extremes of power lead to misery and barbed wire.”

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