On Sunday's MSNBC Live, during a discussion of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack, host Ayman Mohyeldin repeatedly tried to get Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer to criticize President Donald Trump for allegedly using "dog whistles" that might have encouraged more anti-Semitism. Instead, Dermer praised Trump, pointing out that anti-Semitism exists on both the far left and far right, and called out the media for mostly ignoring the recent anti-Semitism of Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan.
At 4:12 p.m. Eastern, Mohyeldin brought aboard Dermer as a guest, and, after devoting the first question and just 50 seconds to letting his guest explain what Israel would be doing to assist the synagogue attack victims, the MSNBC host pivoted to trying to get Dermer to blame Trump for increasing anti-Semitism, and kept pressing the subject for the next seven minutes out of the nine-minute interview. Mohyeldin posed:
I know that one of the things that Israel does is it combats or spearheads the effort to combat anti-Semitism around the world, and so obviously the first question that comes to mind is a statistic that has come out from the Anti-Defamation League which reports a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the United States.
Do you attribute that at least partly to the more heated rhetoric in this country since President Trump took office? Or how do you, as an Israeli government official, explain this explosion of anti-Semitism in the U.S.?
After Ambassador Dermer noted that there was already significant anti-Semitism before Trump became President, and took the time to praise President Trump for his condemnation of anti-Semitism yesterday, Mohyeldin followed up: "So allow me then to dig in a little bit deeper about President Trump for a moment and some of the messaging that he's been talking about. This is the President last week declaring himself a 'nationalist.'"
After a clip of President Trump at a rally describing himself as a "nationalist," Mohyeldin then played a clip of Trump's controversial claim that there were "very fine people on both sides" in response to the August 2017 violence in Charlottesville. The MSNBC host added: "And the reason why I brought those up is because people are saying those are dog whistles to anti-Semitic white nationalist groups in the United States. Do you not see that from your vantage point?"
After Dermer began by referring back to other anti-Semitic attacks in the U.S. over the past several years before Trump became President, Mohyeldin jumped in:
I know, sir, Mr. Ambassador, with all due respect, sir, I understand the history of the attacks. And I definitely don't disagree with you about the history of anti-Semitism. I'm talking to you about the political leadership in this country, if they bear blame for the rhetoric and the kind of vitriol that we see directed towards the Jewish-American community. You just heard the President there say that there were people who were chanting in Charlottesville saying that "Jews will not displace us," being described as "very fine people."
Dermer admitted that he thought that Trump had handled the aftermath of the Charlottesville violence poorly, but then praised the President's more recent statements against anti-Semitism as being some of the best he has heard on the subject. After the Israeli ambassador had spent a couple of minutes pointing out that there is anti-Semitism on both the far left and the far right that needs to be called out, Mohyeldin again pressed:
So would you be willing, sir, as ambassador, to call out the American government if, in fact, you felt this President, in many of what people have described as 'dog whistles' to anti-Semites, even going after prominent Jewish philanthropists like George Soros who's become a punching bag, if you will, of the far right? You're not criticizing them for using George Soros's image in a derogatory way.
Dermer argued that criticizing Soros is not necessarily anti-Semitic, and asserted that there should be more willingness to call out anti-Semitism emanating from different sources. He then complained about the lack of response to Farrakhan recently calling Jews "termites."
Mohyeldin then finally backed off and asked if Dermer hoped the synagogue attacker would be charged with committing terrorism -- possibly because Mohyeldin suspects that because the Pittsburgh gunman was not a Muslim, that his actions will not be called "terrorism."
PS, from the Washington Free Beacon: Pro-Israel groups have demanded Mohyeldin be fired for sloppy coverage hostile to Israel and protested him being a keynote speaker at anti-Israel group conferences.