White House Democrat hopeful and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg declared his opposition to Israel’s “political right wing” just weeks after the Jewish State elected a conservative government.
“Being supportive to Israel does not have to mean that you are onboard with the agenda of the Israeli political right-wing. I am not,” Buttigieg replied when asked during a live interview with the Washington Post’s Robert Costa if he would support Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The South Bend mayor’s criticism of Israeli conservatives bears a striking resemblance to then-presidential candidate Barack Obama’s 2008 comments about the right-wing Likud Party. Meeting with Jewish leaders in Ohio, Obama reportedly said, “I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you’re anti-Israel and that can’t be the measure of our friendship with Israel.”
As Breitbart News senior editor Joel Pollak reported this week, Buttigieg’s criticism of Israel’s political right and the Jewish state at large dates back to his days at a regular columnist for the Harvard Crimson:
On another occasion, Buttigieg — who would later volunteer for the U.S. Navy Reserves, and served a tour in Afghanistan as an intelligence officer — speculates about “soldiers my age at roadblocks and checkpoints in Israel and Iraq alike, shooting children, women and journalists” out of fear.
Buttigieg also criticizes Israel elsewhere, obliquely. He says that Americans should “take those to task who cause suffering,” and offers Israel and Saudi Arabia as examples. He also mocks what he calls the “nonsensical term ‘homicide bombers’ to describe Hamas suicide attacks” against Israeli civilians: “What bomber is not homicidal?” Buttigieg asks rhetorically.
In a tweet Thursday, Pollak criticized Buttigieg for “thoughtlessly criticizing” the Israeli right, point out that, if elected president, his remarks will serve as a point of friction with Netanyahu, who is expected to lead through 2023. The South Bend mayor is not the first Democrat presidential candidate to attack Israel’s right. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) smeared the Netanyahu administration as a “racist government” during a CNN town hall in April.
“What I believe is not radical,” said the Democratic-socialist. “I just believe that the United States should deal with the Middle East on a level playing field basis. In other words, the goal must be to try to bring people together and not just support one country, which is now run by a right-wing — dare I say — racist government.”
“I spent a number of months in Israel. I worked on a kibbutz for a while. I have family in Israel. I am not anti-Israel,” he later added. “But the fact of the matter is that Netanyahu is a right-wing politician who I think is treating the Palestinian people extremely unfairly.”