WASHINGTON — Democratic supporters of Israel in Congress are upset at U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman telling media there that GOPs back the Jewish State more than their Dem colleagues.
In an interview with the Times of Israel, Friedman said Democratic lawmakers have failed to sufficiently rally their constituents to back Israel.
“The argument that I hear from some Democrats that Republicans are seizing the pro-Israel mantle is true, to a certain extent. There’s no question Republicans support Israel more than Democrats,” Friedman said.
“What the Democrats are not doing is looking at themselves critically and acknowledging the fact that they have not been able to create support within their constituency for Israel at the same levels that the Republicans have,” he added.
The ambassador noted that “there is a large Democratic constituency right now that is not pro-Israel,” and said the party has “to acknowledge it, and they have to fix it, or try to fix it.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-N.J.) called it “outrageous that any American diplomat would wade into partisan politics as Ambassador Friedman has done.”
“I’d invite him to the Foreign Affairs Committee to see the lawmakers working hard to ensure support for Israel remains bipartisan,” he said in a Thursday statement. “Diplomacy and partisan politics are incompatible. If Mr. Friedman doesn’t understand that, he should come home.”
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said today that “among the many reasons” he couldn’t support Friedman’s nomination last year “was because he proudly participated in efforts to drive a partisan wedge into longstanding bipartisan support for Israel among the American people.”
“Once he was confirmed, I held the faintest of hopes he had learned the lessons of his egregious writings and rhetoric and that he might serve honorably as America’s representative in Israel,” Cardin said. “His recent hyper-partisan comments about support for Israel in American politics are wrong, insensitive, and demonstrate his ill-preparedness to be a suitable diplomat to one of our most important allies and friends in the world.”
“Ambassador Friedman’s comments are a troubling and unfortunate set back in the enduring bipartisan work that is necessary to resolve tensions in the Middle East, seek peace for all, and ensure Israel’s security.”
Friedman tweeted today, “Observing overwhelming Republican support for Israel is not a ‘partisan shot’ as some have described. I firmly believe that American support for Israel needs to be bipartisan and I will continue to welcome any Democratic legislators who wish to visit Israel – and I hope they do!”
Six Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to Friedman last week complaining that they had not been invited to the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. Friedman told the Times of Israel that “the members of Congress who came were the ones who chose to come.”