After a disastrous week, Trump managed to bring two rival nations together in agreement. Sort of.
Photo by Daniel Ogren/Wikimedia Commons.
Trump held a wild press conference on Tuesday in which he said there were “many sides” to blame for the violence at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. He was chastised for his comments in the U.S. by both sides of the aisle. But, as “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling noticed, the most surprising responses may have come from abroad — when even long-time adversaries halfway around the world agreed that Donald Trump is a bigot.
On Thursday, Rowling tweeted a photo of a CNN chyron, jokingly commending the president for doing something the no other president had managed to do: get Israel and Iran to agree on something.
Unbelievable. He actually did bring the Middle East together. https://t.co/miP9MyVLsS— J.K. Rowling (@J.K. Rowling) 1502981516
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei — an avowed Holocaust denier — issued a statement on his website saying:
“If you are a powerful state, then go manage your own country! If you really care, then tackle the insecurities and violence on the streets of Washington DC, New York City, and Los Angeles! If you really care, go fix racial discrimination and the disastrous violations of human rights for both whites and blacks in your own country! Mind your own business, rather than meddling with other nations' affairs!”
Israeli politician Tamar Zandberg, a left-wing member of the Knesset, made the following statement to CNN:
“The doctrine of extremists on both sides is trying to draw an equivalency in a place where it does not exist. Racism and hatred and opposition to racism and hatred are not two sides of the same coin, and the attempt to draw this symmetry gives legitimacy to dark and evil forces that should not have a place in the public discussion.”
But in case you need a refresher about why Rowling’s observation surprised so many people, she’s referring to specific time in Middle East history. After the 1979 Iranian revolution ushered in a new era of religious nationalism, its relationship with Israel descended into pure animosity.
Though it’s been nearly 40 years, the last decade has seen Iranian leaders ramping up their threats, going so far as to call for the elimination of Israel as a state. A major sticking point in Iran-Israel relations is Israel’s ongoing conflict with the Palestinians. Back in February, Trump showed he had little understanding of the issue by saying he didn’t care how it would be solved, reversing decades of U.S. foreign policy. “I am looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” Trump told reporters at his first joint appearance in the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Some have found Rowling’s comments particularly amusing given that Trump tapped his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to help broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. In a recently-leaked recording, he didn’t seem very confident he could fix the issue.
“We’re thinking about what the right end state is, and we’re trying to work with the parties very quietly to see if there's a solution,” he said. “And there may be no solution.”