The Orlando mass shooting, in which at least 50 people were killed and many more were wounded, may leave its mark on the presidential race, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. determined.
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“If the motive had been hatred against LGBT community, it would benefit Hillary Clinton. But since it is turning out that the motive is jihadist Islam, it will serve Donald Trump. He’ll be greatly strengthened by it,” said Kulanu MK Michael Oren, who has served as Israel’s ambassador to the U.S.
Oren also hinted that he felt Trump hadn't yet taken full political advantage of the situation. “If I was Donald Trump, I would have come out the minute that the FBI started to indicate this morning that we are talking about a guy who was operating from Islamic motivations Just his name alone - “Ameen Seddique” - a Moslem name, the son of Afghan immigrants who apparently maintained connections of some sort to extremist Islamic organizations, that in itself will greatly influence the presidential race.”
He noted that in the immediate aftermath of the violence in Orlando, presumptive Democratic nominee Clinton was “sitting on the fence” and “being very careful.” He said that she is “condemning but hesitating as to what to condemn” and will likely use the incident to highlight the need for increased gun control.
Oren also predicted in a television interview on Channel 10 that in Orlando, as in Israel, tourism and the local economy would be hurt by the violence.
“Orlando is no San Bernardino, a suburb that nobody heard of. Orlando is a famous city, home to Disney World. There will be tens of thousands of cancellations of Americans there,” he predicted. “They will hear the word 'Orlando' and decide it is dangerous and they will be put off.”
In his interview, Oren revealed that there is a standing order at the Israeli embassy in Washington as to how to behave when there is mass violence in the U.S.
“There is a standing order between the Israeli embassy in Washington and the Prime Minister’s Office that every time there’s an incident like this, a letter of consolation goes out immediately and there is a conversation between the prime minister and the president.”
Several Israeli politicians sent condolences and messages of support to Orlando through statements and posts on social media.
One of them, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, tweeted that the “Thoughts & prayers of all of Israel are with those affected by the murderous attack in Orlando. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the U.S.”
Labor MK Itzik Shmuli, a member of the LGBT community, sent a message of “deep condolences to the U.S. This is a struggle between those who believe in freedom and those who want to eliminate it.”
In a “gesture of solidarity with the people of Orlando,” Tel Aviv City Hall was lit up in the colors of the rainbow flag.