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Trump calls deadly Charlottesville rally a ‘peanut’ next to Israel protests

Former president Donald Trump on Wednesday called a deadly neo-Nazi rally a “peanut” compared with current protests of the Israel-Gaza war — his latest downplaying of a 2017 white-supremacist event in Charlottesville over which Trump, as president, drew massive blowback for declaring that there were “very fine people on both sides.”

Trump noted in an evening social media post that President Biden had cited the violent event in Charlottesville as a major motivation to run for president against Trump. “Well, if that’s the case, he’s done a really terrible job because Charlottesville is like a ‘peanut’ compared to the riots and anti-Israel protests that are happening all over our Country, RIGHT NOW,” Trump wrote on his social media website Truth Social.

Politicians of both parties have recently raised alarms about incidents of antisemitism amid mass demonstrations criticizing Israel. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) on Wednesday visited Columbia University as college campus protests spread and led to arrests.

But Trump’s comments were a remarkable framing of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, which even some allies considered a low point in his presidency. White supremacists had gathered in Charlottesville to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in August 2017; the event featured former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke as a speaker.

It turned deadly when a self-professed neo-Nazi drove his car into counterprotesters, killing one woman and injuring dozens of people.

Police have said they are investigating some assaults potentially motivated by tensions over Israel’s war with Hamas, the Gaza-based militant group that launched a surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7. But no deaths have been reported in connection with the protests against Israel in the United States.

Trump, as president, said at the time of the Charlottesville gathering that while the rally featured “some very bad people … you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.” He reiterated his stance later, saying that both sides were to blame for the violence — and drawing rare rebukes from fellow Republicans as well as Democrats.

In his Truth Social post Wednesday, Trump criticized Biden’s handling of the Israel-Gaza war from all sides — suggesting that Biden hates Israel, Jews and Palestinians and “just doesn’t know what to do.” Trump has previously drawn blowback for saying that any Jewish American who votes for Democrats “hates their religion” and hates Israel.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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