U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman says that Republicans are more pro-Israel than Democrats — and that Democrats need to do something about it.
Friedman made his comments Wednesday in an interview with the Times of Israel:
“It’s very disturbing to me. Israel should never be a partisan issue. Everybody, on both sides, says that Israel should be a bipartisan issue. I am going to continue to work as hard as I can to keep it bipartisan,” Friedman began.
“But bipartisan does not mean finding the lowest common denominator and pursuing that just in a blind effort to find consensus,” he continued. “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.”
Elaborated Friedman: “Just because you want to make something bipartisan doesn’t mean that it becomes bipartisan… Democrats can say, ‘We want to be bipartisan on Israel,’ and I wish them every success in doing so. But there is a large Democratic constituency right now that is not pro-Israel. They have to acknowledge it, and they have to fix it, or try to fix it.”
Friedman was speaking in the midst of an effort by some Democrats to claim that they had been excluded from the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, Israel, on May 14.
As Breitbart News reported at the time, not one elected Democrat made the trip to Jerusalem to attend the embassy opening.
This week, several Democrats co-signed a letter to the ambassador by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the ranking member of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, complaining about the impression that “Democrats chose not to participate.” They complained that they had “received no invitation from the White House to participate in the official delegation to visit Jerusalem for this moment of historic occasion,” and claimed: “We take a back seat to no one in support of the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
However, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), who led the congressional delegation to the event, told Breitbart News’ Aaron Klein on Wednesday that he had personally invited Democrats to attend the embassy opening, and that none agreed to come.
He pointed out that no members of Congress had been invited by the White House to attend, but noted that he had personally called Democrats and asked them to join his delegation. All found an excuse not to attend.
In addition, an administration source indicated to Breitbart News that Rep. Engel had been invited to help lead the congressional delegation (CODEL), but refused. (Rep. Engel’s office declined to comment to Breitbart News for this story.)
Moreover, no Democrats attended the May 14 party at the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. All members of Congress had been invited.
On Thursday, the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) called on the Democrats who signed the letter to withdraw it. In a press statement, the RJC said:
Rep. Engel and the other signatories to that letter – who declined specific invitations to join the CODEL to Jerusalem – had the nerve to write that they “would deeply regret if the government of Israel was left with the impression that Democratic lawmakers chose not to attend the event.” What a shameful act of chutzpah. They stooped very low to undermine this historic event and to embarrass Amb. David Friedman, who is serving ably to represent the United States in Israel.
Democrats waved the Palestinian flag and held pro-Palestinian signs at the Democratic National Convention in 2016. In contrast, U.S. flags were not prominently displayed until media coverage and criticism from then-candidate Donald Trump prompted party officials to ensure the American flag was seen.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.