(JTA) — Benjamin Netanyahu, the incoming Israeli prime minister who has said that Donald Trump was Israel’s best-ever friend in the White House, said the former president’s dinner a week ago with two antisemites was a “mistake.”
‘I think that that’s what I would say about President Trump’s decision to dine with this person I think is wrong and misplaced,” Netanyahu said in an interview with Bari Weiss that the opinion journalist posted Wednesday on her newsletter, Common Sense. “I think it’s a mistake. He shouldn’t do that.”
Weiss had asked Netanyahu to comment on Trump’s meeting with Kanye West, the rapper and designer now known as Ye who in recent weeks has come out as an antisemite, and Nick Fuentes, a Holocaust denier and antisemite whom Ye now consults. It was not clear which one of the two Netanyahu was referring to as “this person.” Netanyahu said he also condemned Ye’s recent remarks, which accuse Jews of exercising outsize control and declaring “death con 3 on the Jews.”
Netanyahu’s comments come as he himself is under fire for working with extremists as he sets up a government that includes avowed homophobes and figures who have embraced the philosophies of the latest racist rabbi, Meir Kahane.
As prime minister in 2020, Netanyahu broke a custom of not favoring one U.S. president over another. “We have the best friend Israel has ever had in the White House,” Netanyahu said at a time that Trump was set to launch an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. The plan, seen as strongly favoring Israel, was dead on arrival when the Palestinians refused to consider it.
In his interview with Weiss, Netanyahu once again made clear his appreciation of Trump, who hewed U.S. policy to Netanyahu’s agenda: ditching the Iran nuclear deal, moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, defunding the Palestinians and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, among other measures.
“He has been a tremendous supporter of Israel, and I’m unabashedly appreciative of what he did for Israel,” he said. “I appreciate all that it doesn’t take away from. Also, you know, he’s been very supportive of the Jewish people. So I think he made a mistake. I hope it’s not repeated. That’s all I can tell you.”
Leading Republicans have criticized Trump for the meeting, among them David Friedman, whom Trump named as ambassador to Israel and who worked closely with Netanyahu to implement Trump’s changes in U.S. Israel policy.
Trump has said that he met with Ye because he was a friend in trouble, and that he did not know who Fuentes is.