Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg told a gathering of liberal Jews Thursday that the United States should pressure Israel to change its policies.
NBC News reported Thursday evening that “Buttigieg told a group of influential liberal Jewish leaders on Thursday that the United States should guide Israel’s government away from steps that he says are harmful to both the U.S. and Israel.”
NBC did not mention any particular particular Israeli policies that Buttigieg believes should be changed.
It also did not name any recognized “Jewish leaders,” but rather minor figures and political operatives, such as a Democratic pollster and a former Obama administration official, among a few others.
NBC reported that Buttigieg also criticized the Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and to recognize Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights — both of which were welcomed by Israelis across the political spectrum.
According to NBC, Buttigieg called these steps “a decision to intervene in Israeli domestic politics through American policy,” and said the decisions should only have been taken in the context of peace negotiations. (Syria has refused to negotiate with Israel for decades; the Palestinians have also rejected peace negotiations for several years.)
Buttigieg also cited the infamous “Charlottesville hoax,” the false claim that President Donald Trump praised neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville in August 2017. As Breitbart News and others — including CNN — have admitted, Trump specifically excluded the neo-Nazis from “very fine people,” and said the neo-Nazis “should be condemned totally.” He was referring, instead, to protesters against the removal of a Confederate statue — as well as to non-violent left-wing counter-demonstrators.
Without naming anyone specific, Buttigieg also reportedly said that the “White House … has welcomed in people who I think are nakedly anti-Semitic.” He reportedly did not name anyone in particular.
Last month, Buttigieg courted Al Sharpton over lunch in New York, the second time he has wooed Sharpton after speaking at his National Action Network conference earlier this year. Sharpton has a lengthy record of racist rhetoric and antisemitic incitement. Many believe Sharpton is responsible for inciting a mob in Crown Heights, New York, that murdered a Jewish religious student, Yankel Rosenbaum, in 1991.
Earlier Thursday, Buttigieg told the Washington Post that he does not support “Israel’s right wing.”
Those remarks earned him criticism and protest from left-wing Democrats and anti-Israel activists.
Now, instead of emphasizing areas of commonality with Israel, Buttigieg is attempting to find areas of difference.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.